Suffolk Show enjoys blistering start

THE Duke of Gloucester enjoyed a warm welcome as the Suffolk Show had a blistering first day.Both organisers and visitors could not have been happier with the sunny weather which graced day one of the show, and the searing temperatures are set to continue today .

THE Duke of Gloucester enjoyed a warm welcome as the Suffolk Show had a blistering first day.

Both organisers and visitors could not have been happier with the sunny weather which graced day one of the show, and the searing temperatures are set to continue today .

Crowd figures will only be released later , but it is expected visitor numbers are on course to meet the organisers' expectations of 80,000 people over the two days.

The Duke of Gloucester's visit was among the highlights yesterday, and he had a packed schedule to fit in at the Suffolk Showground.


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Having arrived by train at Ipswich station, where he was met by the Chief Constable of Suffolk, Alastair McWhirter, His Royal Highness was escorted to the showground by car.

Shielded from the sun in a straw panama hat, he greeted the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Lord Tollemache, along with Lady Tollemache and the High Sheriff, John Thurlow and his wife Helen, as well as other dignitaries.

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Mr Thurlow said: “He's got a very busy programme and a long day ahead of him. He seemed very pleased to be here.”

John Wall, honorary show director, added: “It's always a pleasure to welcome a Royal visitor, especially one who has a genuine interest in agriculture and conservation.”

From the President's Enclosure, the Duke was taken on a walking tour of the show, stopping first at the Suffolk Horse Working Demonstration, where he met Suffolk punches Thomas, seven, and Punch, 11.

Owner, farmer Nigel Oakley, of Rede Hall Farm, Bury St Edmunds, who was overseeing the demonstration area for the Suffolk Horse Society, said: “He asked if the horses enjoyed the work and if they got tired.

“I told him it is good to keep them fit and give them a dignity by working. It is a wonderful opportunity to show the public the versatility of the horses.”

Then it was on to a display of vintage engines and tractors where the Duke met bygones enthusiast Jon Read and his wife Daphne, from Norwich.

Jon said: “I showed him a 1910 coffee grinder and roaster and he smelt the coffee. He wanted to know if we could run any attachments from it. He seemed very friendly.”

From there, the Duke was introduced to Colin Wright, agricultural general manager for Birds Eye, at the Growing for a Healthier Nation display.

Mr Wright, who showed the Duke some fresh peas, said: “The Duke was interested to know that there is always much more to these products than meets the eye.”

Elizabeth Mansfield, representing Women's Food and Farming Union, enticed the Duke with a basket of strawberries.

She said: “He wanted to know what the advantages were to growing them off the ground in a tunnel. He certainly liked the strawberries.”

Next the Duke presented certificates at the Suffolk Schools Healthy Eating Competition, organised by the Suffolk Agricultural Associaion, Muntons Malt and Suffolk County Council.

First to meet His Royal Highness was nine-year-old Nathan Ryder, from Stanton Primary School, which clinched first prize in the Key Stage 2 category for his healthy “Hazelnut Heaven” biscuits.

Nathan said: “I was a little bit nervous but it was OK. He was nice.”

Northgate High School pupil Katherine Milkovics, 14, told the Duke about her class' prize-winning healthy eating website.

She said: “He asked how many hits we'd had and who had designed it.”

Twins Joe and Scott Leer, 14, of Warren Special School, Oulton Broad, showed the Duke their winning fruit bags.

Joe said: “I wanted to ask him if he knew Ozzy Osbourne but I daren't.”

As Grand Prior of the Order of St John Ambulance the Duke was then introduced to Graham Page, deputy county commissioner for the organisation.

Mr Page said: “He was interested in the operational side and the vehicles. He asked if we'd had much trouble with heat stroke but we're quite quiet for the moment.”

Jill and Fiona Kerr of Easton Farm Park, at the children's farmyard, also spoke to the Duke.

Fiona said: “We introduced him to Dick Hunter who looks after the animals and Tom Walne, who was with a Suffolk mare and foal. He was very chatty and interested in all the animals.”

The Duke also took in the wildlife and conservation area and the East Anglian Reserve Forces and Cadets Association before enjoying lunch in the President's Enclosure.

The afternoon saw him present long service awards and two awards for the Suffolk Federation of Young Farmers Valuation Competition before taking his place on the dais to watch a parade of the Royal British Legion Standards.

Then he was back on his feet to meet the show staff, followed by a tour of the cattle building and judging rings, the farriery and sheep building.

He was then taken to the British Food Hall and to the Suffolk Skills stand before presenting championship class prizes at the Grand Parade.

The Duke was then invited to tea in the President's Enclosure, accompanied by The Lord Lieutenant, before taking leave of the show and returning to Ipswich station.

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