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Trophy silversmiths work on their last Royal Norfolk Show after three decades of service

PUBLISHED: 17:16 27 June 2018 | UPDATED: 17:16 27 June 2018

Royal Norfolk Show, 2018. RNAA silversmith Howard Zelley will be retiring from his show duties this year. Pictured with his wife, Susan, and granddaughter Harper Zelley, 3.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Royal Norfolk Show, 2018. RNAA silversmith Howard Zelley will be retiring from his show duties this year. Pictured with his wife, Susan, and granddaughter Harper Zelley, 3. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

The silversmiths responsible for maintaining the Royal Norfolk Show's vast array of trophies are moving on to pastures new after 29 years.

Owners of a jewellers established in the 19th century, the Zelley family have looked after, cleaned and organised the engraving of all the trophies handed out at the county’s annual extravaganza since 1989.

Led by Howard Zelley and his partner Susan, the family store the trophies at their Norwich base throughout the year, with Mr Zelley ensuring all the trophies are kept in faultless condition and Mrs Zelley cleaning every single trophy by hand.

When the show comes around, the gongs are put on display in the showground’s trophy hut and presented, before being hand engraved and sent off to the various winners.

, the scale of the task has multiplied as the biggest two-day county show in the country has evolved.

“The Norfolk Show is a national event nowadays, so people come from far and wide and the trophies go to winners from all over the place,” said Mr Zelley. “When we started there were about 80 trophies and now there’s around 160, so we have real difficulty cramming them into our trophy hut.

“Gone are the days when we could transport the silverware to the show in a couple of cars - these days we need vans to bring them along.”

Family-run since 1886, involvement with the business has been passed from generation to generation and it has been no different for Mr and Mrs Zelley’s daughter, Lexi.

“It’s bittersweet for us to move on,” said Miss Zelley. “I’ve been coming to the Norfolk Show since I was a little, and so has my daughter Harper since she was little.

“Looking after the trophies and bringing them here every year has been a real family tradition. My dad could probably tell you the number, year and weight of all the trophies off the top of his head.

“What some people might not realise is that it requires an awful lot of work - it’s far from a two-day event for us!”

As for the future, Mr Zelley’s affections for the Norfolk Show are here to stay and he is determined that his involvement is not over just yet.

“We’d love to stay involved in some way and I’d have no problem with overseeing the way the next stage for the trophies.”

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