Show goes on despite storm damage

THERE were fears it might not go ahead after a storm destroyed seven marquees just hours before the doors were set to open.

Danielle Nuttall

THERE were fears it might not go ahead after a storm destroyed seven marquees just hours before the doors were set to open.

But the team responsible for putting on the Mid-Suffolk Show worked round the clock to ensure the popular event not only opened on time but was as polished ever.

Thousands of people poured through the gates of Stonham Barns, in Stonham Aspal, near Stowmarket, at the weekend for the eighth Mid-Suffolk Show.

No-one could have imagined the scene of destruction that would have greeted them less than 24 hours earlier.

Late Friday afternoon, strong winds brought down seven marquees covering the event's major exhibits, including the owl sanctuary, rabbit show, and rare breeds display.

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John Philpott, general manager of Stonham Barns and show director, said: “I thought we wouldn't be able to do it but the team all pulled together and were wonderful.

“Some of those marquees were 12m by 6m. They were completely destroyed but we managed to get all the team together and build enough marquees to open the show. Some of them we had to patch up and repair.

“I was fairly worried but my team rallied around. I cannot praise them enough.”

This year's show, which was sponsored by the East Anglian Daily Times, was packed with activities and included a sheep dog display, classic car parade, heavy horses, gun dogs and air cadets.

One of the highlights was a spectacular display from the Stannage International Stunt Team which saw Mark Stannage, one of Britain's leading stuntmen, climb a huge tower before setting fire to himself and diving head first into an airbag sixty feet below.

There was plenty of retail therapy on offer with an impressive number of trade stands and a craft hall at the show, while visitors were able to sample delicious local produce in the food hall.

Mr Philpott said: “We've been running the show for eight years now and it's gradually grown from a small show in a small field to the point where we had to extend the area. Five years ago we realised we couldn't squeeze it into a field any more.

“Everyone had a wonderful time as usual. We don't charge a lot to get in the gate. We want everyone to be happy and our main aim is to have a nice family day.”

The show, which costs around £25,000 to stage, will donate cash this year to a host of local charities.

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