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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.”

The rainy day did not deter just over 23,000 visitors to the Northumberland County Show on spring Bank Holiday Monday. 

Agriculture is the heart of the show and Champion of Champions competition judge, Mr. Robert Neill of Upper Nisbet near Jedburgh, said of the final line up, “It is an honour to be asked to judge today. Every animal here could be the winner. The quality is outstanding.”  The winner of the competition supported by JS Hubbucks Ltd was pedigree Limousin in-calf heifer called Mystyle Maitoi, owned by the Richardson family of Gill House, Appleby. Handler, Ben Richardson, was delighted by the result saying, “I can’t tell you what this means to us! It’s amazing! This heifer was home bred and we knew from the beginning she was special."

The damp weather sent visitors flocking to the indoor marquees to marvel at the array of livestock exhibits or indulge in some retail therapy in the shopping marquee and watch our chefs cook up some mouthwatering delights in the food marquee. 

North East land agents and chartered surveyors Vickers & Barrass has renewed its sponsorship of the Northumberland County Show in a move that reflects its support for the next generation of farmers.

The County Durham-based practice will follow last year’s successful involvement as sponsors again of the ‘Young Sheep Handlers’ class, which sees anyone under the age of 16 presenting any breed of lamb for judging.

Dozens of youngsters from across the region will don their white coats to participate in one of the most competitive and eagerly anticipated classes, with the hope of landing the top spot at the county show in Stocksfield at the end of May. The firm will also be sponsoring the Champion cattle class in support of cattle exhibitors.

Vickers & Barrass will be sharing its stand - located adjacent to the sheep pens - with the Darlington Farmers Auction Mart, which has started work on a new agricultural centre. There, the firm will have an office in the new auction mart building as part of the development.

The sun shone brightly on over 28,000 visitors to the Northumberland County Show on Spring Bank Holiday Monday. With the highest attendance recorded at the Bywell site since the show moved there in 2013, the organisers were feeling justly proud of their achievements.

One happy visitor was Ian Murray, from Wooler. He and his father, Fred Murray, have been competing in the Youngs RPS Sheep Section for twenty years, selecting entries from the best of their 120-strong flock of purebred Texels. Ian was ‘Chuffed to bits!’ with his clutch of trophies for Male Champion Texel and Reserve, Female Champion, Group of Three and the Interbreed Championship, but the icing on the cake was when his gimmer was selected as The Champion of Champions. The competition, supported by JS Hubbucks Ltd Agricultural Merchants of Hexham, is the most prestigious award in the Northumberland County Show, and the winner chosen from a huge line up of breed and class champions from cattle, sheep, heavy horses and alpaca sections. This year’s judge, Trevor Simpson, Senior Auctioneer at Hexham and Northern Marts, said, “What I love about this show is how it brings so many people together, and gives them the chance to see such a range of quality livestock in one place. The champions were superb and I had a difficult choice, but in the end, the Texel hit all the points, and had marvellous confirmation and character.”

The damp weather didn’t deter over 23,000 visitors from descending on Bywell yesterday for the annual Northumberland County Show. The morning drizzle proved to be a big bonus for traders and exhibitors with retailers reporting record takings in the Indoor Shopping marquee, Taste of Northumberland Food Hall and Network Artists Gallery. The livestock and shearing marquees were equally busy as hordes of onlookers enjoyed the spectacle of over 350 cattle, 470 sheep, 130 alpacas, 600 horses and thousands of dogs, pigs, goats, rabbits and Guinea pigs being closely evaluated by the judges in each section.

At the end of the day, the top prize – The J S Hubbuck Champion of Champions – went to a magnificent Limousin cow called Glittered, with her calf at foot. Owned by the Messrs Jenkinson from Clifton Moor, Penrith, the judges commented, “It was a very difficult decision, but this beast is an outstanding example of the breed, with exceptional character and quality. Her calf also shows huge potential!” Sybil and George MacPherson, who featured in the BBC series, This Farming Life, had travelled from Dalmally to undertake the judging. Sybil said, “It’s been a huge honour to judge such fantastic animals. We have had an amazing day.”

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