The glorious summer weather attracted thousands of visitors to the Royal Estate at Sandringham today (Wednesday) for the 131st annual flower show.

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A record-breaking number of people are thought to have attended the traditional event, attended by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.

The recent wet weather and low temperatures were a distant memory and it was sun hats and parasols as far as the eye could see as people struggled to keep cool in the sweltering heat.

Temperatures were already soaring when the gates opened at 9am and many members of the public arrived far earlier to secure a good spot.

The crowds were six or seven deep as the royal couple made their way around the show, stopping off at a number of exhibits including the Sandringham WI stand.

Vice president and chairman Yvonne Brown said: “The Prince of Wales always remarks on or lovely cakes and had a word with all the ladies.

“We are renowned for cooking and we usually sell-out of everything by the end of the day.”

Maeve Johnson, a loyal member for 25 years, was celebrating her 75th birthday and Prince Charles took the time to wish her many happy returns.

During the day, customers would have snapped up about 120 cheese scones and dozens of sausages rolls, with pineapple fruit cake always proving particularly popular.

Prizes in the WI raffle included a Diamond Jubilee pillbox clock donated by the Queen and a Highgrove glazed flower pot donated by Prince Charles.

A stall selling cakes, jams and colourful flower pots painted by children at Sandringham and West Newton Primary School was also in danger of selling out.

Parent Alison Mcleish said the pots had proved very popular and all the money raised would be used by the friends of the school for extra trips and visits.

This year’s show saw the Norfolk branch of SERV (Service by Emergency Rider Volunteers) exhibit for the first time.

County secretary David Parish said the stall had attracted plenty of interest, particularly from youngsters keen to have their photograph taken on one of the SERV motorbikes.

The bike, named Emily, is one of those used by volunteers to transport blood and other urgently-needed medical supplies to hospitals.

Children were also attracted to the bees displayed by the West Norfolk Beekeepers’ Association.

The stand, near the show gardens, was selling local honey and a wide range of ‘products of the hive’ including handmade candles.

Members were also busy educating people on the ancient art of beekeeping, which is enjoying a surge of popularity in Norfolk.

Co-ordinator Barry Walker-Moore, from Cromer, said the branch now had about 250 members, with more and more people showing an interest.

“Membership is booming and not a lot of clubs can say that at the moment,” he said. “We play an important role in educating people. We run about four or five beekeeping courses a year now and there has been a lot of interest in our leaflets today.”

Mr Walker-Moore, who began beekeeping 18 years ago, met the Prince of Charles at the Sandringham Flower Show in 2008 - dressed as a giant bee.

“That picture went around the world,” he said.

Dozens of charities had stalls at the event, but only one featured in one of the stunning show gardens.

An eye-catching woven willow helicopter hovered over John Shone’s Air Ambulance Garden, designed and built by craftsfolk from Rutland Willows.

“We are honoured to be chosen as the subject,” said area fund-raiser manager Chris Donaldson. “We are so impressed by the finished piece and hope to have it permanently on display to raise the profile of the charity.”

Over in the Royal Warrant Holders’ Association marquee, guests were greeted by Nelson the gorilla, the colourful creation of Aylsham-based artist Mik Richardson.

Nelson is the first in an array of gorilla sculptures set to pop up in Norwich next summer in a new project launched by the charity Break at last month’s Royal Norfolk Show.

It is hoped GoGoGorillas! Norwich 2013, backed by Wild in Art and the Born Free Foundation, will prove as popular as the elephant art project which captured the city’s imagination a couple of years ago.

Organisers are encouraging as many artists, schools and businesses as they can to get involved.

Design consultant Nick Farrow said: “Lots of people have been asking about Nelson. We have 230 business people here mainly from this area, so it will give the project plenty of exposure.”

1 comment

  • I am a bit disappointed in the photo gallery, i thought it was the Sandingham Flower Festival, the only flowers i have seen are the Pansies on Camillas dress, havn't we seen enough of them this year? Don't get me wrong i am a fan of the Royals but i also love flowers.

    Report this comment

    melalmighty

    Thursday, July 26, 2012

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