Rain fails to dampen Hadleigh Show

By Alison WithersRAIN failed to dampen the public's enthusiasm for the Hadleigh Show as about 11,000 people flocked to the annual event.The 164th Hadleigh show took place on Saturday and saw the return of a favourite finale, the grand parade of prize-winning animals in the main ring, after the lifting of movement restrictions imposed during the foot-and-mouth crisis.

By Alison Withers

RAIN failed to dampen the public's enthusiasm for the Hadleigh Show as about 11,000 people flocked to the annual event.

The 164th Hadleigh show took place on Saturday and saw the return of a favourite finale, the grand parade of prize-winning animals in the main ring, after the lifting of movement restrictions imposed during the foot-and-mouth crisis.

It also provided an opportunity for a sixth generation of the Rowley family, which originally instigated the Hadleigh Show, to present the winners' trophies.


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Six-year-old twins Hubert and Lucia Holden helped their mother, Emily, the show's honorary president and daughter of the late Sir Joshua and Lady Rowley – whose ancestral home, Holbecks Park, provides the show's venue – with the presentations.

Hadleigh is one of the smaller and more traditional of the region's agricultural shows and, as well as the animals and trade stands, it attracts stalls from community groups like the Hadleigh Community Bus, the Suffolk Preservation Society, the Hadleigh Society, the WI and the town's Chamber of Commerce.

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A downpour greeted the opening of Saturday's event and show director Martin Pratt said his heart had sunk when the rain had set in, but he had been pleased with the final gate for the day, estimated at about 11,000 visitors.

Among the visitors was Jackie Goodchild, who had worked for the Rowley family for many years, doing everything from driving Sir Joshua, to acting as companion to Lady Rowley in her last years.

She and her husband Brian, who acts as a show steward, said they would not miss the event if they could help it and recalled how involved the family had always been in it.

Mrs Goodchild said: "It would start with Lady Rowley getting out the invitations. She always hand wrote them. Then all the staff would set to making the sandwiches and cakes for tea in the president's tent.

"I'd be driving back and forth from the house ferrying the food to the show ground. On the day Sir Joshua would personally visit every stall and stand on the showground."

Children were much in evidence in the Grand Ring, when several hundred poured into the arena to get close to the hounds after the traditional parade of the Essex and Suffolk Foxhounds, the Stour Valley Beagles and the East Anglian Bloodhounds.

The ring's star entertainment, the Kangaroo Kid, also got in on the act when he invited children for rides on the quad bikes he used to thrill the crowds with his stunt riding.

Mr Pratt's three-year-old daughter, Eleanor, was chosen to present a bouquet of flowers to Mrs Holden at the end of the grand parade.

alison.withers@eadt.co.uk

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