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Presidents Report 2023

Aylsham Show  2024 AGM Presidents Report

Picture – Retiring president Roger Long, right, and his successor Nigel Savory DL, left. Picture: Michael Pollitt.

What a fantastic year and a tremendous show, said the retiring president of the Aylsham Agricultural Show Association.

Mid-Norfolk farmer and former head cattle steward Roger Long told members at January’s annual meeting at Aylsham Town Hall: “I’m the most proud president of the Association.”

He had a “wonderful year,” which had ended with the presentation of almost £22,000 to organisations and groups across North Norfolk. He shared their delight in the continuing success of the association, which has raised over £1 million for good causes since the first event was staged on the town’s Recreation Ground in 1946.

He met the inspiring judges of the AASA’s long-standing county farm business competition for a welcome supper at The Plough, Marsham. It had been a further privilege to join more than 100 members and guests on a tour of the supreme champion, Raynham Farms, in July. On that occasion, special awards were also presented to Nigel Joice and Tony Nicholson. Then, the sponsors’ afternoon tea was held by permission of Sir John White, of Salle Park, which had been blessed with fine weather.

His next president duty was visiting the finalists in the food heroes competition. “I had a great time,” he added.

The eve-of-show dinner dance, which was attended by 521 people, had been another highlight – again thanks to Jo Coxford and her team for putting on such a great event. Fortunately, thanks to a great deal of hard work by a small team, the damage caused to Blickling Park several weeks before the show by about two inches of rainfall, and the Ibiza concert, was rectified.

The stage was set for a great show but at about 4.10pm on Sunday, the day before the show, black clouds led to a deluge. It was so bad that a “river” was running from the back of the members. It forced cancellation of the dress rehearsal for the 75th anniversary grand ring pageant.

Fortunately, the sun came out the following morning and the showground dried out. The response from visitors and showgoers was amazing and by late morning, crowds had thronged through the entrance gate. As it was also the 75th anniversary of the launch of the Morris Minor, it was fitting to enter the grand ring in an open top model, driven by Diane Randell. Given the ground conditions, it was “a white knuckle ride” but his granddaughter in the front seat enjoyed every minute. A second tour was driven at a slightly more sedate pace.

It was a fantastic show – of livestock, trade stands, food and education zones, said Mr Long, who added special thanks to his wife Yvonne for support throughout the year.

Mr Long was delighted to propose Nigel Savory, who farms near Fakenham, as his successor as president. Head steward Jane Ritchie, of Honing, becomes vice president.

A new team has taken over at the helm of Aylsham Agricultural Show Association.

Robert Mitchell, of Flashpit Farm, Blickling, was elected chairman at the latest annual meeting held at Aylsham Town Hall. He takes over from Mike Gamble, who has stood down after five years. See photo at bottom by Michael Pollitt.

Mr Mitchell is following a family tradition with the Aylsham Show. His grandfather, Matthew was the first vice-president elected when the AASA was formed in December 1951 and in 1954 and 1955 served a two-year term as president. In the 1960s, as tenants on the National Trust’s Blickling estate, the show was held on their land.

Mr Gamble, who originally planned to serve for two years as chairman, helped to plan the revival of the annual show after cancellation because of Covid 19.

He presented his successor with the association’s “badge of office” – a silver statue of a horse and huntsman, originally presented by Ray Bond, the first secretary to the newly-formed Aylsham Show and Gymkhana.

The newly-elected vice chairman, William Haire, who is Easton College’s head of estates, is a former cattle judge at the show. He was involved in the Balmoral Show in his native Northern Ireland for 17 years and formerly worked for the East of England Agricultural Society for four years.

Farmer and chartered accountant Nigel Savory DL, who lives near Fakenham, succeeds Roger Long, as president. Head horse steward Jane Ritchie, of Honing, was elected vice president.

Three life vice-presidents were elected – Mike Gamble, Jamie Jamieson and Tony Nicholson, the latter who has exhibited at the show for the past 40 years.

David Hitcham BEM, now in his 45th Aylsham Show year, continues as Event Co-ordinator and adminstration and finance.