History repeats itself at East Anglian barley growers ceremony
- Credit: Richard Oake
History has repeated itself after a Suffolk barley grower scooped a coveted industry award.
Mark Lake, who farms at Dalham Estate, Newmarket, was presented with the Otter Trophy for his 2017 Maris Otter barley crop, at an award ceremony in Norwich in March.
Robin Appel, of Hampshire-based merchant Robin Appel Ltd, gave the prize at the annual Maris Otter Review, hosted by Richard Oake, also of Robin Appel Ltd, at the Norfolk Mead Hotel at Coltishall.
By coincidence, both of their ancestors performed the same ceremony 75 years ago, when Robin’s forebear, Colonel Edwin Percy Clarke, of merchants E G Clarke & Son of Framlingham, was presented an award for services to the corn trade by Mark’s forebear and Mayor of Bury St Edmunds Alderman E L D Lake, who was chairman of brewers Greene King.
Around 160 members of the East Anglian corn trade gathered at Everards Hotel in Bury St Edmunds for the ceremony on August 4, 1943, at which Colonel Clarke was presented with his portrait in oils.
The prestigious ceremony was reported in the following day’s East Anglian Daily Times.
“This morning’s presentation in a way recreates a piece of local rural history, alberit a role reversal, and a more modest event,” said Robin.
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“However, should Mark win this trophy again, this is his first win, let’s say twice more, making it three times in all, perhaps that would warrant a portrait in oils.”
Farmers from Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire were at the 2018 event, to learn about the prospects for their valuable Maris Otter crops, now coming out of winter, and for the awards event.
The firm’s barley director Jonathan Arnold explained how they could evaluate planting prospects for September.
Maris Otter malting barley grown on East Anglian farms is much sought after by the brewing industry and is increasingly gaining international recognitiion as a brand for English beer styles such as India Pale Ale, the firm says.
Since Maris Otter was grown in 1965 it has gained market share and the region now produces around 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes at each harvest, according to Robin Appel Ltd.
Mark’s award was for the quality of his crop.