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Hundreds take part in harvest festival celebrations as National Harvest Torch arrives in Essex

PUBLISHED: 15:16 04 October 2018 | UPDATED: 07:53 05 October 2018

Essex Young farmers preparing for their wheelbarrow procession into Chelmsford Cathedral Picture: NICHOLAS ROBINSON/CHELMSFORD CATHEDRAL

Essex Young farmers preparing for their wheelbarrow procession into Chelmsford Cathedral Picture: NICHOLAS ROBINSON/CHELMSFORD CATHEDRAL

NICHOLAS ROBINSON

Hundreds of people across Essex took part in harvest celebrations as the National Harvest Torch came to the county.

Bishop Stephen Cottrell receiving the National Harvest Torch at St Micheal�s Church, Leaden Roding, at the beginning of his Missionary Journey Picture: GAVIN K DENTON/DIOCESE OF CHELMSFORDBishop Stephen Cottrell receiving the National Harvest Torch at St Micheal�s Church, Leaden Roding, at the beginning of his Missionary Journey Picture: GAVIN K DENTON/DIOCESE OF CHELMSFORD

The torch, sculpted by master blacksmith Andrew Hall and commissioned by national organisation Love British Food, forms the centrepiece of celebrations across the year and this UK was at Chelmsford cathedral and at Ely.

It began its tour of the Chelmsford Diocese on Saturday, September 29, at The Round Church, Little Maplestead. Essex agricultural chaplain Reverend Janet Nicholls handed it to Revd Gay Ellis at the opening of the Food and Farming themed Flower Festival at Little Maplestead.

Then on Sunday, September 30, it joined Bishop Stephen Cottrell on his missionary journey through rural parts of the diocese.

Revd Nicholls handed the torch to the bishop at a breakfast service at St Michael’s church, Leaden Roding, and it joined the procession in to the cathedral for the County Harvest Thanksgiving Service. Bishop Stephen’s walk included a tree planting ceremony at Writtle University College to mark 125 years of its founding.

Revd Janet Nicholls, Essex rural adviser and agricultural chaplain, with the National Harvest Torch in Chelmsford Cathedral Picture: DIOCESE OF CHELMSFORDRevd Janet Nicholls, Essex rural adviser and agricultural chaplain, with the National Harvest Torch in Chelmsford Cathedral Picture: DIOCESE OF CHELMSFORD

The cathedral procession was led by Essex Young Farmers, who rolled wheelbarrows filled with produce into the cathedral. These were later taken to Age Concern headquarters in Chelmsford to provide lunches for local elderly people.

Around 300 people gathered at the cathedral, which was decorated with winning scarecrows from the Essex Schools Food and Farming Day, to hear insights into Essex farming from a series of speakers. National Farmers’ Union (NFU) deputy president Guy Smith, who farms near Clacton, NFU county chairman Patrick Wreathall, Paul Kelly of Kelly Bronze Turkeys at Danbury and Essex Young Farmers Jack Garwood and Ben Sell all offered their contributions, and Robin Waters, chairman of the Tenant Farmers Association, provided a harvest report.

“The weekend saw us truly celebrate Essex agriculture and give thanks for the work, commitment and perseverance of our farmers,” said Revd Nicholls.

The Duchess of Cornwall, patron of Love British Food, provided a foreword for the order of service, describing the Harvest Torch as a beacon for the campaign for British Food, and reminding worshippers of our good fortune in having food in abundance.

Robin Waters, chairman of the Tenant Farmers' Association (TFA), delivering his Harvest Report at the County Harvest Festival, Chelmsford Cathedral Picture: NICOLAS ROBINSON/CHELMSFORD CATHEDRALRobin Waters, chairman of the Tenant Farmers' Association (TFA), delivering his Harvest Report at the County Harvest Festival, Chelmsford Cathedral Picture: NICOLAS ROBINSON/CHELMSFORD CATHEDRAL

Prayers for the farming community were led by Peter Hickling of the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) and Philip Wilson of the Farming Community Network (FCN). The collection from the service went to RABI and FCN to support their work with farmers in Essex.

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