East Anglia: Grand Prix presenter Jake Humphrey joins Show

New president Jake Humphrey at the Royal Norfolk Showground. Photo: Steve Adams

New president Jake Humphrey at the Royal Norfolk Showground. Photo: Steve Adams

An East Anglian TV star has become he new figurehead of the Royal Norfolk Show.

Sports presenter Jake Humphrey, 34, best known for his coverage of motor-racing and Premiership football, has been named the new president of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA). He is the second youngest person ever to hold the post and hopes to inspire a new generation.

A landscape of open fields, grazing animals and tractors is certainly a change of pace from the high-octane world of Formula One.

But the Norfolk TV star who has become the figurehead of the county’s agricultural show says the transition from the pit lane to the pastures will come perfectly naturally to him.

And the man who spent his youthful summers riding tractors on his grandfather’s farm near Wisbech now wants to raise the profile of the agricultural industry so pivotal to our heritage and economy – the “beating heart” of the county which raised him.


You may also want to watch:


The new president, who grew up at Stoke Holy Cross, south of Norwich, said he was “greatly honoured” by his appointment, which follows the honorary doctorate awarded to him by the UEA last summer.

“I think it was embarrassment as much as anything else,” he said. “It always blind-sides me when I get wonderful offers like this.

Most Read

“I remember those wonderful sunny days being off school and being given the chance to come to the Royal Norfolk Show. It will be very strange to arrive here as president and see those wide-eyed school kids coming down to see the livestock and all these other things that make Norfolk such a special place.

“I am so passionate about this county and its beating heart of agriculture and farming and livestock.

“That is what it has always been about and I don’t want children to grow up here with no knowledge of what’s around them which, basically, is fields. They need to know what grows in those fields, and how the farmer will grow it, and what impact the weather will have on how it grows and the food prices. It is a vital part of an upbringing here.”

Jake said the current proliferation of TV cooking shows such as Masterchef and the Great British Bake-Off made it the ideal time for a media celebrity to fire youngsters’ interest in the provenance of their food.

He said: “If ever there was a time for me to get involved, then it feels like now is the time. For the first time in many years it has become fantastically in-fashion to know about baking and farming. But you can come and live it here, rather than watching it on television.

“Kids know what a chicken thigh looks like, but have they ever held a chicken in their hand? Or have they ever got really close to a pig, touched it and got to know its characteristics rather than running away saying: ‘They’re smelly’?

“That is the great thing about the show. It is all about touching, and feeling, and getting that insight into animals and food.”

Last week, outgoing president David Lawrence, principal of Easton and Otley College, said the Royal Norfolk Show should have “a strong focus on promoting the excellent careers” in the agricultural industry.

The new president agrees wholeheartedly.

“It is no good having the older generation of farmers confused as to who they are passing their farms down to,” he said. “We need a generation of 18-year-olds who can drive a tractor and know how to deal with lambs at two o’clock in the morning. That’s really important for the county and it’s really important to me.”

The RNAA was founded in 1847 and its only former president younger than Jake was the Prince of Wales – later King Edward VII – who was 31 years old in 1872.

Jake said: “I am gutted not to be the youngest, although Edward VII has a few advantages over me. I’m sure he had a bigger house!

“But in recent years it has been rare for a president to be able to bring both a newborn baby (one-month-old Florence) and their parents to the show.

“Hopefully people will realise that for Jake Humphrey to be its president, the RNAA cannot be a stuffy old organisation, and I hope people will be excited that I’m the president. If people are coming to the show, I don’t want them to see me from afar and say: ‘Look, it’s that man off the telly’. I want them to come and talk to me about life in Norfolk and to ask why I’m the president of the RNAA.

“If I can help them have the most successful Norfolk Show ever, then it is job done for me. And I can personally guarantee two days of sunshine – I’ve had a word!”

Jake attended Framingham Earl High School and the Hewett School’s sixth form in Norwich before launching his screen career, initially with Anglia TV.

He is best-known for his Formula One motor racing coverage but is now anchor of BT Vision’s Barclays Premier League football coverage.

The 2013 Royal Norfolk Show takes place on June 26 and 27. More information at www.royalnorfolkshow.co.uk

Comment – Page 26

From the pit lane to the pastures - TV presenter Jake Humphrey talks about becoming the new president of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association.

But the Norfolk TV star who has become the figurehead of the county’s agricultural show says the transition from the pit lane to the pastures will come perfectly naturally to him.

Sports presenter Jake Humphrey, best known for his coverage of motor-racing Grand Prix and Premiership football, has been named the new president of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA).

And the man who spent his youthful summers riding tractors on his grandfather’s farm near Wisbech now wants to raise the profile of the agricultural industry so pivotal to our heritage and economy – the “beating heart” of the county which raised him.

Jake, who at 34 is the second youngest person ever to hold the role, says he also hopes to inspire a new generation to come and meet him at this year’s Royal Norfolk Show.

The new president, who grew up at Stoke Holy Cross south of Norwich, said he was “greatly honoured” by his appointment, which follows the honorary doctorate awarded to him by the UEA last summer.

“I think it was embarrassment as much as anything else,” he said. “Whether it is receiving an honorary doctorate from the UEA, or the presidency of the RNAA, or just having kids come up to me for autographs in the street... I still just feel like the boy who grew up in a village south of Norwich – not ‘Jake Humphrey off the telly’.

“It always blind-sides me when I get wonderful offers like this.

“I remember those wonderful sunny days being off school and being given the chance to come to the Royal Norfolk Show. It will be very strange to arrive here as president and see those wide-eyed school kids coming down to see the livestock and all these other things that make Norfolk such a special place.

“I am so passionate about this county, and its beating heart of agriculture and farming and livestock.

“That is what it has always been about and I don’t want children to grow up here with no knowledge of what’s around them which, basically, is fields. They need to know what grows in those fields, and how the farmer will grow it, and what impact the weather will have on how it grows, and the food prices. It is vital part of an upbringing here.”

Jake said the current proliferation of TV cooking shows like Masterchef and the Great British Bake-Off made it the ideal time for a media celebrity to fire youngsters’ interest in food’s provenance, and perhaps even a career in agriculture.

He said: “If ever there was a time for me to get involved, then it feels like now is the time. For the first time in many years it has become fantastically in fashion to know about baking and farming. But you can come and live it here, rather than watching it on the television.

“Kids know what a chicken thigh looks like, but have they ever held a chicken in their hand? Or have they ever got really close to a pig, touched it and got to know its characteristics rather than running away saying: ‘They’re smelly’?

“That is the great thing about the show. It is all about touching, and feeling, and getting that insight into animals and food.

“And I think anyone outraged by the horse-meat scandal should come down here and meet farmers and breeders who can give you a potted history about any of their animals, and how they have been raised. A day at the Norfolk Show is easily as educational as a whole week in the classroom.”

Last week, outgoing president David Lawrence, principal of Easton and Otley College, said the Royal Norfolk Show should have “a strong focus on promoting the excellent careers” in agricultural industry.

The new president agrees wholeheartedly.

“It is no good having the older generation of farmers confused as to who they are passing their farms down to,” he said. “We need a generation of 18-year-olds who can drive a tractor and know how to deal with lambs at two o’clock in the morning.

“That’s really important for the county, and it’s really important to me.”

The RNAA was founded in 1847 and its only former president younger than Jake was the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, who was 31 years old in 1872.

Jake said: “I am gutted not be the youngest, although Edward VII has a few advantages over me. I’m sure he had a bigger house!

“But in recent years it has been rare for a president to be able to bring both a newborn baby (one-month-old Florence) and their parents to the show.

“Hopefully people will realise that for Jake Humphrey to be its president, the RNAA cannot be a stuffy old organisation, and I hope people will be excited that I’m the president. If people are coming to the show, I don’t want them to see me from afar, I want them to come and talk to me about life in Norfolk and to ask why I’m the president of the RNAA.

“What I really want to is to give something back to Norfolk, to this county which has been so brilliant to me ever since I went down to London to start a TV career.

“If I can help the RNAA have the most successful Norfolk Show ever, then it is job done for me. And I can personally guarantee two days of sunshine – I’ve had a word.”

Jake attended Framingham Earl High School and Hewett School’s sixth form in Norwich before launching his screen career, initially with Anglia TV.

He is best-known for his Formula One motor racing coverage but has also presented BBC sports shows including Football Focus, Match of the Day, and last summer’s Olympic Games. He is now anchor of BT Vision’s Barclays Premier League football coverage and remains an avid Norwich City fan.

He said: “I am sure some people will look at this and ask: ‘Why is that guy who hangs around with Formula One drivers and footballers qualified to be the president of the RNAA?’

“But most people don’t realise may family has been farming in this area for decades. My grand-dad John was a farmer in Wisbech, and that farm is run by my uncle now.

“I remember just sitting in the cab of the tractor, and helping to pick apples, and seeing all the workers going out – that was how I spent my summer holidays.”

Jake was proposed as president by South Norfolk landowner Sir Nicholas Bacon, who is chairman of the RNAA’s council. He said: “There is a big drive towards apprenticeships in agriculture and horticulture and that requires a slightly younger approach and a younger person to lead it.”

RNAA chief executive Greg Smith said: “Jake is from Norfolk and obviously much admired in Norfolk and further afield, so we are delighted to have him. As well as following all the traditional lines a president takes on, we hope that Jake’s involvement in the show will encourage more young people to come to the show and support the association.”

Show director Julian Taylor said: “There will be a huge demand for several hundred hand-shakes from the visitors and trade stands at the show, because Jake has such a wide appeal. We will struggle to get him around the whole showground.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus