Tynedale Agricultural Society receives the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service
Tynedale Agricultural Society, the charitable organisation behind the popular Northumberland County Show, has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
The Northumberland County Show, which attracts over 26,000 visitors to the ninety acre site in the grounds of Bywell Hall, near Stocksfield, would have taken place last weekend. It is held every year on the last Bank Holiday Monday in May but sadly, this year’s show was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
For nearly one hundred and seventy years, the ‘Northumberland Show’ has been a much-loved highlight for farmers, equestrians, competitors and the general public. Despite its huge scale, the event operates thanks to an army of volunteers. Mr. Robert Raine, Chairman, explained, “Throughout the year the society’s Committee, which consists of over sixty volunteers, meet to coordinate their sections and provide information to the twelve members of the Management Committee. We have only one full time paid employee, and another part time, so we rely on a lot of goodwill and ongoing commitment from many individuals. On show day, every single member of our team gives up his or her time voluntarily for the benefit of others. It’s a remarkable achievement.”
The Show’s President, Mr. David Carr, farmer and haulier of Hexham, has volunteered for the show since he was a child. He echoed his Chairman’s sentiments, “We have over three hundred volunteers from our immediate show team on the big day, and rely on the assistance of hundreds of others from groups as diverse as Northumberland Young Farmers, Police and Army Cadets, students from Kirkley Hall Campus at Northumberland College, Churches Together, Rotary Club and other non-profit making organisations. I would estimate we work with up to a thousand volunteers in the preparation, show day and clean up operation. We are thankful to so many and this award means a great deal to us in recognising their incredible efforts.”
The Northumberland County Show has long celebrated excellence in agriculture, food production and animal husbandry, with a huge array of competitive classes. With educational and entertaining displays, trade stands, local food and drink, children’s activities and main arena attractions, it offers a wonderful day out for all.
James Wardle, former Chairman, added, “What is less known is that Tynedale Agricultural Society is philanthropic in its own right, regularly donating surplus revenue to other local charities including The Country Trust, RABI and NE Air Ambulance, and funding up to five annual bursaries for local young people studying agriculture or land based courses in Higher Education. Annually the Society provides long service awards to employees with over thirty five years’ continuous service to industries related to agriculture. The team also host an information sharing hub for other local shows; sharing best practice and disseminating information produced by the national ASAO (Association for Shows, Agricultural and Outdoor events).”
Tynedale Agricultural Society is one of 230 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations has increased year on year since the awards were introduced in 2002, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.
Representatives of Tynedale Agricultural Society will receive the award from The Duchess of Northumberland, Lord Lieutenant of the County, later this summer. Furthermore, two volunteers from Tynedale Agricultural Society will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2021, along with other recipients of this year’s Award.
Mr. Harry Mole, former President of Tynedale Agricultural Society, was instrumental in attaining this award on behalf of the Show, and involved in confidential meetings and interviews with representatives of the Lord Lieutenancy over many months. Mr. Mole concluded, “I have been part of the show for over forty years, and I am delighted the Society has been recognised in this way. It is a fitting tribute to the hard work and commitment of so many and I am incredibly proud to be part of such a thriving and vibrant community, without whom the show would not be possible.”