2013-05-17 xml
DEFRA Grant Supports County Show

As the preparations gather momentum in the final week before this year’s Northumberland County Show, organisers are grateful to DEFRA for the award of a much needed £44,000 grant.

Gaynor Scandle, the Show Secretary says. “It has taken months of hard work and the application process was very challenging. We’re delighted to be successful and have received the funding in time for this year’s show. The grant is supporting ground works, purchase of equipment, the construction of a storage building, and new software. Its benefits will be felt for years to come.” The Show is now supported by the Rural Development Programme for England, for which DEFRA is the Managing Authority, part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.

Anthony Crozier and Warren from Hodgsons Fencing Contractor.jpg

Anthony Crozier and Warren from Hodgsons Fencing Contractors

After 60 years at Tynedale Park in Corbridge, the show is moving to Bywell, near Stocksfield, The grounds are owned by Lord and Lady Allendale, and form part of the estate closest to their family seat, Bywell Hall. The new showground will sit in beautiful, level parkland with clusters of ancient oak trees, bounded by traditional estate fencing.

Despite the land’s many natural benefits, there has been considerable advance planning and ground works to make it suitable to safely accommodate the 25,000 visitors and many more thousands of traders and exhibitors that will attend the show this year. Work began nearly two years ago, and with so much complex infrastructure to coordinate, Anthony Crozier, long serving committee member and ex-Chairman, has just been appointed to oversee the works.

The Grant, distributed by the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) has contributed to ground protection matting for gateways and areas of heavy footfall; for upgraded bridges in the fields set aside for public parking; a new track through woodland into the main parking field which leads from the B6309, one of the primary entrance routes leading from the A69; and numerous new gates and fences. The land has also required drainage works and reseeding on areas that suffered from flooding during the winter that are not part of the grant award.

Anthony explained, “We have very large vehicles to move around the site, and huge numbers of pedestrians who need free flowing access points across the showground. We are installing 14 new double gates this week and safe crossings and walkways that keep the livestock and general public safely apart. Hodgsons Fencing Contractors are currently on site carrying out the work.”

Recent legislation ruled that ropes were insufficient as a barrier enclosing livestock show rings, and more substantial structures were required for public safety. The funding has helped with the purchase of new hurdles and other equipment to make the show fully compliant with Health and Safety guidelines.

A new storage shed is needed to keep all of the vast amounts of equipment the show requires, in a secure and convenient place. It will be constructed on the site of an existing wooden stable in the showground, and will be erected with the help of the grant.

Although the fields for the showground are currently dry, free of livestock and the grass is cut, visitors need to be aware that this is still agricultural land and the terrain can be undulating. They should take care to wear sensible footwear and be prepared for wet weather, regardless of the assurances of Gaynor, who asserts, “We have ordered beautiful weather for 27th May!”

Gaynor also has even more reason to be grateful for the grant. Her busy office is currently full of volunteers responsible for registering the thousands of entries and despatching tickets, exhibitor cards, information packs and colour coded parking passes. New software, developed especially for the Northumberland County Show, will streamline this process in future years, by automatically feeding entrants’ details from online applications straight into their IT system. Additionally the software will allow the Class Guides, which list each exhibitor in the hundreds of competitions, to be printed in-house with all of the associated savings to the charity.

Gaynor is independently in the process of setting up a Northern Region Association of Agricultural Shows. The aim of the organisation is to share best practice and support between organisers. To maximise the grant’s investment, she hopes to offer the new hurdles and equipment for hire to members of this group at preferential rates. She says, “It seems a waste to only use our fantastic new equipment for just one week a year. If an agricultural show has cattle or horses on display, our barriers and hurdles will be available for rent from late June onwards.”

There are lots of new events and attractions at this year’s show. To find out what will be happening, you can buy a Show Guide for £2 from the Show Office, Tourist Information Centres and various retail outlets. There are big discounts on advance tickets.

Northumberland Show

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