Suffolk Show 2019: James takes his turn in the ring as show’s top cattle steward
PUBLISHED: 15:11 31 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:11 31 May 2019
A longstanding Suffolk Show exhibitor joined the ‘other side’ this year as he took over the reins in the cattle rings.
James Strachan, who comes from a dairy farming family at Rendham, near Framlingham, used to be a regular competitor - and winner - at the show before selling up the herd.
This year, he officially took over as senior cattle steward from William Wrinch, who filled the voluntary post for an impressive 13 years before standing down.
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"It's great to be part of it," said James, who wanted to bring his exhibitor experience to bear on the role. "I hope I've put my exhibitor experience into trying to make it even more enjoyable for the competitors - William did a terrific job."
He has tried to build on a number of improvements made during William's term, and was delighted that ventilation has now been installed in the sheds to help keep the cattle cool.
He also introduced an innovation inside the rings which appeared to be well received: instead of trophies being presented at the end of the two days, this year competitors came up to collect them and be photographed just after receiving their rosettes in the ring.
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He thinks that having the 37 trophies on display inside the rings, and presenting them immediately, has added to the experience for competitors. "It's worked really, really well," he said.
A team of 20 hard-working cattle stewards keep the flow going and ensure that competitors are where they ought to be.
"The stewards of this show are just incredible - they all do it for free," said James. "There's a lot of work that goes in from those volunteers and I'm lucky to have inherited them. On the day, there are always a few issues - the odd escaped animal - but it's all about staying calm and tackling the problems as they arrive."
One item on his 'wish-list' is some resurfacing work by the sheds, but each project must take its turn, he explains.
"It's a huge organism, this show, and obviously everyone's looking to improve their area each year so I have just got to put a good case to the board to fund it."
Numbers of competitors vary - this year they dropped as last year was the South Devon national show, but exhibitors are already lining up for next year's event.
"We are laying on a beautiful shop window for our agricultural friends to show their wares," said James.