Thursford showbiz impresario John Cushing has finally become the president of the Royal Norfolk Show - an event he has attended almost every year since 1950.

Mr Cushing, the man behind the hugely successful Thursford Christmas Spectacular, has formally been elected as this year's figurehead for the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association.

And the 83-year-old, best known for directing Norfolk's biggest winter attraction, is thrilled by the prospect of overseeing the county's summer showcase.

He has waited in the wings as an understudy for three years, serving an extended term as deputy president throughout two Covid cancellations, and last year's triumphant comeback.

But as his moment in the spotlight finally nears, he is keen to celebrate the agricultural show's theatrical appeal - and its celebration of Norfolk's starring role in producing the nation's food.

"This is all theatre to me," he said. "Shakespeare said all the world is a stage - and I don't think the Royal Norfolk Show is any different to what I have been doing in showbusiness for the last 45 years.

"Actually it's all showbusiness, isn't it? Everything here is theatre in so many respects - the polished tractors, the animals all washed down every morning, the ring events, the bowler hats. It is a feast for the eyes, with something for everyone.

"It is the greatest show in Norfolk - except maybe one!"

That was a tongue-in-cheek reference to his Thursford Christmas Spectacular, which attracted around 165,000 visitors during its winter season, while the 2022 Royal Norfolk Show welcomed 80,000 over two days last summer.

Mr Cushing said he has only missed two county shows in 73 years since attending his first at the age of 10 in 1950, when the event at Anmer Hall on the Sandringham Estate was attended by King George VI.

"I don't know if there is anyone around who can beat that," he said. 

"At that time, the shows were still travelling and in a different place every year.

"After the war, the thing I remember most was all the different tractors in all these different colours - but they were all very small, like Dinky toys compared to what you see now.

"There were all the animals and extraordinary military displays, but there were very few retail stands at the original shows, it was strictly tractors and agricultural equipment.

"But the Norfolk Show has been very successful in diversifying in the last 30-40 years to appeal to a wider public."

Mr Cushing said the ability to attract new audiences was crucial to the show's success in meeting its underlying purpose - as a "celebration of Norfolk’s food, livestock and rural way of life", and to educate the public about agriculture and the countryside. 

"The show is a chance to immerse ourselves in the farming innovations of the past as well as the technological achievements of the modern day which will shape our farmlands and environment for decades to come," he said.

"There is a tremendous amount of tradition here, which is the basis of it all, but they have worked hard to establish a market for newcomers as well as traditionalists - especially anyone with children.

"The retail stands have become a shopping experience, and they have done particularly well with the main ring displays.

"You might ask what jumping motorbikes have got to do with farming? But, of course, that is about getting people through the gates - to open up the opportunity for the education side about food and farming, which is so important to the whole team here."

In true theatrical style, Mr Cushing hinted at some "really big surprises coming this year".

And he revealed one of his own contributions from the Thursford Collection will be a Norfolk-built showman's engine named Victory, built in 1920, which will be back in steam for the first time in nearly 50 years after a restoration which has elevated its estimated value to £1m.

His chosen charity for the year is Mind over Cancer, which supports the mental wellbeing of young people diagnosed with cancer.

The Royal Norfolk Show will be held on June 28 and 29 at the Norfolk Showground. For more information and tickets see