Changes at the Top for Devon County Show

As two stalwarts of the Devon County Agricultural Association bow out after many years of distinguished service.

At the last meeting of the DCAA Council, John Lee OBE stepped down as Chairman, with David Parish calling it a day as Vice-Chairman, both having served the maximum seven year term. Into their seats move two of Devon’s best known and most influential farmers, in Mary Quicke MBE as Chairman and Edward Darke as Vice-Chairman.

John Lee OBE

John Lee OBE

Both have distinguished DCAA track records. Mary Quicke, who runs the family farm and renowned Quickes Traditional cheese-making business at Newton St Cyres, was President in 2013, while Edward Darke, who farms with his family near Kingsbridge, has long been recognised as one of Devon’s leading livestock breeders and was Chief Sheep Steward for 22 years and Chief Livestock Steward for the past four years.

As far as DCAA Chief Executive, Richard Maunder, is concerned, they make the perfect combination.

“It is immensely gratifying that we should have been able to attract two of the most successful and respected farmers in Devon to fill these roles. John Lee and David Parish have done a wonderful job, but with Mary’s vision and dynamism and Edward’s experience and encyclopaedic knowledge of the Show, we have exactly the qualities we need to take the DCAA and the Devon County Show to the next level. “

For Mary Quicke, the most exciting aspect of her new job is taking up the challenge laid down by last year’s Show President, Sir Eric Dancer, when he said that the DCAA should be looking to broaden its role so as to speak for the entire rural community in Devon.

“The Devon County Show will always remain at the heart of everything we do”, she said, “but I am sure that there is a role for a respected honest broker to bring people in Devon together to discuss the key issues and hopefully reach a consensus which the whole county can unite behind.

“The DCAA is not a political body and we are not talking about expressing political opinions or lobbying. But what we can do is to use our influence and our contacts so as to become the natural home for rural discussion in Devon.

“Exactly how we put that ambition into practice has still to be decided, but it seems to me to be the perfect way to deliver the DCAA’s mission to develop agriculture and rural business in the modern world.”

Edward Darke is equally enthusiastic about broadening the DCAA’s role, although, as Chief Livestock Steward, his main focus will inevitably be on the Devon County Show itself.

“The Show is the basis of everything we do”, he says. “We’ve made great strides in recent years in strengthening the farming content, and I have always said that the quality of the livestock at the Devon County is the equal of, if not better than, what you will find at any other agricultural show, anywhere in the country.

“But to maintain that, and to build on it, we do need to attract the younger generation to get more involved with the show, and I see that as an absolutely vital part of my role with the DCAA”.

Devon Show

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