Who’s wishing Ed Sheeran would play at the Suffolk Show?

Izzy and Tory

Izzy and Tory - Credit: Archant

Suffolk Young Farmers on why they love the Suffolk Show and selfies with Prince Harry - and meet the farmer’s daughter born on Suffolk Show day


Beth - Credit: Archant

They tell us “Suffolk Young Farmers do it in wellies”, so I’m sure they won’t mind jumping in at the deep end with this Q&A. (We’ll do the more serious stuff later. Promise.) Here’s the starter for 10 (and no conferring). Do you have embarrassing show confessions to share? Oh, go on…

Beth Duchesne (county chair): My most embarrassing show incident was probably when I had the opportunity to compete with my horse at the Suffolk Show – a life-long dream – as part of the Inter-Hunt relay. However, I fell off in the warm-up arena, so went into the ring with muddy jodhpurs, and then when it came to our turn on the course my horse froze and wouldn’t move!

I think I spent a good three or four minutes trying to get him to move and jump the first fence, but I had to be rescued by another team member who took my turn for me, and lost it for our team!

To make it even worse, I spotted my crush in the crowd, watching the whole thing – nightmare for any 17-year-old!

Anna Holt (Suffolk vice-chair and treasurer): Being snotted on by a cow.

Nick Bundy (sports chairman): I never do anything embarrassing!

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Izzy Botfield (social chairman): There are too many to mention!

Jake Spatchett (muck-chuck working party leader): Definitely not!

Jake Mutten (clay pigeon shoot working party leader): I had a year when I had to leave early, having overindulged in the members’ tent. I’d only been there an hour.

Neil, far right

Neil, far right - Credit: Archant

Neil Allen (country fair working party leader): Not that I’m going to admit to!

Liz Hornberger (administrator): My daughter Steph shouting “it’s done a poo” in front of a huge crowd of people.

Tory Lugsden (organiser): Being dared to ask Prince Harry for a selfie by my children for £5 and Prince Harry telling me I was way too cheap.

Thanks. That’s broken the ice nicely. What’s your first Suffolk Show memory?

Beth (“pocket rocket and driver of any tractor known to mankind”, according to the SYF website): Suffolk Show always seemed to be a mini holiday to me, and my first memories were always based around my brothers and I being really excited to be going and pulling our parents’ arms out because we wanted to go and see all the animals, and being given £10 each to buy a “special” present from the show – although this always seemed to be spent on sweets and funfair rides!

Anna (“holder of the purse strings”): Running around with my sister, trying to see how many goody bags we could scrounge! This must have been around 20 years ago.

Nick (“ultra sporty”): My first show memory is the farrier area and watching the horses being shod. This was in 2005, I think, and I would have been seven.

Izzy (“uber organised”): I was very young and remember walking lots!


Anna - Credit: Archant

Jake S (“loves his tractor more than anything”): Don’t know when it was but I can remember walking around the show with mum and looking at clothes.

Jake M (“an amazing shot”): Being overwhelmed by the number of people and all of the socialising going on. I think I must have been about 10.

Neil (“extreme attention to detail and also a little bit feisty”): Looking at big machinery and thinking “Wow!” I must have been about eight.

Liz (“the foundation of Suffolk YFC”): Taking the children and seeing all the animals close up, which we don’t get in the town.

Tory (“if it needs sorting out, she’ll have a go”): Being dragged around by my parents and having to wear long white socks and a stupid hat. I was about six and it was a long, long time ago!

How many shows do you think you’ve been to?

Tory: All of them since I was six, apart from foot and mouth year. (And) I was on the showground with the sheep when the show was closed for the wind; it was the most terrifyingly eerie place to be.

Beth: I think 23! We go every year, and I don’t think my Dad has ever forgiven me for deciding to arrive en route to the show in 1992, as it meant he missed out for a year!

Jake S, left, with friends

Jake S, left, with friends - Credit: Archant

Woah. Tell us more. Turns out Beth was born on the second day of the show, May 28, but started making her presence felt on the eve of day one.

Beth: Mum (Ruth) told me they were setting up the YFC stand on Tuesday night when mum started to feel a bit uncomfortable, so she went for a break and sat with Philip Morley in his caravan, and they all ended up having fish and chips. Mum started to get stomach pains, so they went home.

Mum woke early the next morning (she was woken up by a hedgehog trying to mate the concrete one we had as a statue by the pond in the garden!) and still had stomach pains, so dad (Richard) thought they should call in at the hospital (West Suffolk) en route to the show, to just check everything was OK – all dressed smartly for the show. Apparently they were kept waiting for a while until the midwife told them mum was in the early stages of labour, so kept her in. I eventually showed up about lunchtime on the Thursday. So dad missed both days!

So you were born very early?

Beth: No, I was bang on! But my dad said it would be an inconvenience to appear that week, and my parents were confident I was going to be late, as I was the first, so hadn’t really thought about it. But actually I was spot on.

What’s your best show memory?

Beth: Would probably have to be meeting Prince Harry, and trying to take sneaky selfies with him in the background!

Nick: Winning a competition over the two days in the sports village when I was 14. (I’m not competitive at all!)

Baby Beth, in a banana box

Baby Beth, in a banana box - Credit: Archant

Izzy: Always heading to Rydale to buy a new jumper!

Jake M: Buying my very first Charles Tyrwhitt shirt

Neil: Seeing the Young Farmers stand full of people, having got soaked to the skin setting it up, and fiddling about with an asparagus tractor for hours in the rain

Tory: The inaugural Charlotte Cobbald stockpersons’ competition was both amazing and emotional [the Young Farmer died in 2014, aged 17], meeting Prince Harry and most definitely the year that Super Moo won the first ever mascot race.

If you were in charge of the whole shebang, what would you change?

Izzy: Ed Sheeran singing at the end of day one, on the lorry!

Anna: Add another day! There’s always so much to see and do.

Beth: I don’t think I would change anything, but I would try and encourage more interactive agricultural stands and “hands on” farming exhibits, to demonstrate there is a lot more to farming than tractors!


Liz - Credit: Archant

Nick: I would encourage more people to stay for the evening entertainment.

Jake S: Nothing. It’s a great couple of days out.

Jake M: I’d definitely add more bar opportunities!

Tory: I’d like the time to have a look around at the show, as I generally spend my time flying between the sheep lines and the YFC events and don’t even get a chance to look at the show!

Neil: More vintage machinery and showing how agriculture has moved on over the years.

Liz: I’d book sunshine!

Why should the non-farming public spare a few more thoughts for agriculture, and what is the best thing that could happen that would improve the lot of a farmer and/or the UK countryside?

Beth: Because the countryside we all live in and love has been made that way through agriculture and farming practices.

Tory and Beth

Tory and Beth - Credit: Archant

UK farmers produce our food, the thing that keeps us alive and on this planet, and without them the countryside as we know it will disappear and will never been seen again.

We can, and we do, import food from other countries, but produce from the UK has one of the highest welfare and safety standards in the world – things that are not always high on the agenda of other food-producing nations.

Farmers are constantly facing a huge challenge: they are expected to produce more and more food, as cheap as possible, on less land with less resources, and to meet thousands of rules and regulations. But they keep on doing it!

Farming and the countryside come as a pair, and if one of these is missing, the other cannot exist!

We have all been stuck behind a tractor on the road, and you always seem to get stuck behind one when you’re running late! But the person driving that tractor is just like any of us – doing something they love: to help others, provide for their families, make a living – but they are also going that extra mile for us all, to make sure we are fed, watered and have a beautiful world to live in.

Anna: Better understanding from everyone about the amount of work involved in putting food on our plates.

Nick: Open people’s eyes to the huge variety of jobs that are related to farming – it’s not just tractors!

Izzy: Everyone needs to eat, so support the farmers. And YFC is lots of fun!

Jake S: The industry is a great place to work, with brilliant career options, big machinery, and kit is advancing all the time, so the opportunities are endless.

Jake M, front

Jake M, front - Credit: Archant

Jake M: To get people to understand that a tractor is not just something that pootles up and down fields; the technology we are working with is seriously impressive!

Neil: Understanding what is involved in agriculture, where your food comes from, and more work with schools to give children an idea from an early age.

Liz: More respect for farmers and the work they have to put in. People should realise their impact on the countryside and how it affects farming and livestock particularly.

Tory: Agriculture is at the heart of everything that everybody does. Every time you touch or eat anything there is always a farmer of some variety at the start of that process. It would be great if the education sector could do more as, having done a lot of school visits, the children really do get inspired by what agriculture does.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Beth: Shopping and the food hall! But I’m also looking forward to the debates which are happening across the showground this year, as it is a very exciting time for agriculture and the Suffolk Show is a great chance to hear everyone’s views and opinions, as well as providing an opportunity for the non-farming communities to gain an understanding of what challenges we are facing – two of which are happening in the Suffolk Young Farmers Barn: debating the future of the Next Generation in Agriculture with Ed Ford on Wednesday and Glyphosate with Tom Bradshaw on Thursday. (Just a little plug here. Haha.)

Anna: Aside from the Pimm’s (which is certainly NOT weather dependent) I love getting the chance to catch up with old friends.

Nick: I am most looking forward to YFC tug of war and the evening in the members’ tent and stockmans’ bar, socialising

Izzy: A new jumper!

Jake S: A few days off work and seeing all of my friends.

Jake M: Buying more shirts and seeing lots of people I don’t see that often.

Neil: Seeing friends and having a look around all the machinery and the vintage tractors.

Liz: The variety of tradestands, the animals, ring events – especially the Mascot Race… come on Super Sheep!

Tory: The Charlotte Cobbald Stockpersons competition, this year showing pigs, and watching my children show their sheep in the Young Handlers competition… closely followed by some intense gin sampling on the Adnams stand.

How long have you been a member, and how did you get involved?

Beth: I have been a member of Suffolk Young Farmers since I was 10 years old. I’m now about to turn 25, which means I have spent more than half of my life as a Young Farmer!

My family are farmers near Bury St Edmunds, and my parents were both heavily involved in Suffolk Young Farmers when they were younger, and were really keen for me to get involved as soon as I could.

Technically my first Young Farmers event was on the Lavenham Young Farmer float when I was two years old, and before that I’m pretty sure I attended a few discos at Cockfield village hall, so you could say YFC is in my blood!

I had heard so much about young farmers, and seen all the pictures from “back in my parents’ day”, that I couldn’t wait to be old enough and join in.

In February, 2004, Dad was asked to help start up a new junior young farmers club for 10- to16-year-olds between Bury and Sudbury, and I was lucky enough to be their first ever member. Fourteen years later I’m still here and now county chair!

I’m so grateful for all the knowledge, skills and experiences I have gained from being a member, and have an amazing group of friends for life.

Anna Holt: Not very long! I think I joined in 2014, having attended Stowmarket Ball with a group of girlfriends. I spent my early years on a farm in Wiltshire, before moving to Suffolk when I was four.

Nick: Seven years. I do not come from a farming background and am now a blacksmith. I got into young farmers through my mum, who used to be part of it and said it was good fun, so I went along.

Izzy: Five years (I think).

Jake S: Only been a member for two years; always been involved around farming, so thought I’d get to know the local young farmers in the area.

Jake M: About five years. Lots of friends were members and I just had to get involved. The parties, the people and everything that goes with YFC is just brilliant.

Neil: Ten years. I first got involved through friends and worked my way through the roles. I’ve worked in agriculture for a while and have now moved into the construction sector.

Liz: Too old to be a member but worked for them for the past 24 years despite being a townie through and through! Best job in the world: the variety is unbelievable!

Tory: Worked for them for the past 10 years. Club leader for a junior club for five years, county and area chairman for two prior to that. My Dad is a farmer and I am also married to a farmer (YFC dating agency works!)

You’ve all been great sports. By way of thanks, have a free “message from our sponsor”.

Beth: I will be helping run the stand and ring displays that Suffolk Young Farmers are doing this year. Our new Suffolk Young Farmers Barn will showcase the best of Suffolk YFC, as well as our “fastest lap in a reasonably priced (pedal) tractor”, and we have members competing in stock judging, tug of war and soap box pig racing!