Long-serving stewards retire from Aylsham Show - prompting an urgent appeal for new blood
PUBLISHED: 12:19 27 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:19 27 August 2019
Some of the Aylsham Show's most loyal stalwarts are stepping down after 20 years of marshalling the livestock contests - prompting an appeal for the next generation of volunteers to step forward.
Roger Long is retiring after two decades as the show's head cattle steward, along with his wife Yvonne who has worked alongside him as assistant head steward.
Following a record beef cattle entry at Bank Holiday Monday's sun-drenched Aylsham Show, he said the time was right to focus on other farming and family priorities, including taking part in the livestock contests rather than officiating.
Mr Long, a cattle dealer based in Scarning, near Dereham, said: "We have been coming to this event for 40 years and we have done 20 fantastic years as stewards, which we have enjoyed immensely.
"But there is a lot to do. Yvonne does a hell of a lot, and Sarah [their daughter Sarah Haire] does a lot on the computer side.
"We feel the time has come. We have had one or two lows and a hell of a lot of highs, and made a tremendous amount of friends.
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"We have got a record number of beef cattle here today [Monday] and so I feel we can go out on a bit of a high. We will still be here to help and advise, but we have other responsibilities. Sarah has got her own Herefords and Yvonne has her own Belted Galloways which she would like to show here.
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"It is still a marvellous show. When you look down across all these animals it gives you that glow factor."
Rob Norman, the show's agricultural coordinator, said with long-serving sheep stewards Gareth and Jo Daniels also standing down this year, the challenge is now on to find a younger generation of volunteers to drive the show forward in future.
The 30-year-old agronomist said: "The Aylsham Show is all about Norfolk agriculture, and we need the right people with fresh ideas to come on board who are keen to promote Norfolk livestock - and someone with a bit of youth about them would be a benefit.
"It would be good to have some experience as well, but a lot of people of my age have been showing since they were 12 years old, so they have got 18 years under their belt. If we can get someone interested who is younger, with the same commitment and longevity that Roger, Yvonne, Gareth and Jo have shown, then it would give some continuity to the show going forward.
"We have got the head stewards in our two main livestock showing sections standing down, and at the moment there is no-one to take it on. That is a bit of a concern, but showing is bred into you so I would like to think someone is out there who is keen to volunteer for such a great show."
- Anyone interested in the volunteer vacancies should contact Rob Norman on email@example.com.