A look at three very different visitors to the Royal Norfolk Show

Peter Churchyard has been showing pigs at the Royal Norfolk Show for 40 years.

Peter Churchyard has been showing pigs at the Royal Norfolk Show for 40 years. - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

Who goes to the Royal Norfolk Show and why? We asked three very different visitors to tell us what makes the show so special.

Original population Dairy Shorthorn Poynings Duchess with Granger Harrison's daughter Esme.

Original population Dairy Shorthorn Poynings Duchess with Granger Harrison's daughter Esme. - Credit: Archant

St Mary's Junior School pupils always enjoy a visit to the show.

St Mary's Junior School pupils always enjoy a visit to the show. - Credit: Archant

• PETER CHURCHYARD

Pig farmer Peter Churchyard wouldn't dream of missing the Royal Norfolk Show, and nor would his son or grandsons. Three generations of the family love the show – a vital part of Norfolk life, they feel.


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Peter breeds the Large Black, the UK's rarest traditional breed of pig, which is appreciated for particularly succulent meat and sows that are excellent mothers. 'I've been going to the show for about 40 years. It's a shop window for your breeding stock,' he says.

He shows his pigs at 11 different shows a year, from the Great Yorkshire Show to events in the south of England. The Royal Norfolk Show is his favourite.

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'It's our home show so we support it as much as we can,' he adds.

Based in south Norfolk, not far from Wymondham, he taught his son Paul how to show pigs and he started showing when he was about seven. Now they're teaching Paul's two-year-old son.

'He has got a little board and he goes in with the pigs with us now. We're careful who we put him with,' says Peter.

Peter's older grandchildren, Joshua and Justin Belltye, are following the family tradition too and have become young handlers, showing Peter's pigs for him.

'It is lovely having all the generations of the family with me. Having all the back-up is great, they're all there to help. I am proud. All the boys do well,' he says.

His wife Ruth helps with the pigs, brings on orphan lambs and is in charge of making sure he and the boys' white handlers' coats are looking perfect too.

The Royal Norfolk Show is not only a chance to display his pigs and meet interested members of the public, but to see what else is happening and catch up with friends and other farmers.

'You do get to know different people and different breeds. That is one big happy family,' he says.

• GRANGER HARRISON

A great atmosphere, friendly, interested visitors and some pretty stiff competition are what keeps farmer Granger Harrison returning to the Royal Norfolk Show every year.

He's been showing cattle for years and this year is delighted to be taking some rather rare cattle with him too.

Along with the Charolais, Hereford and Lincoln Red cattle that he and his father, John, nearly 81, are showing, and the Southdown sheep that 13-year-old daughter Esme is taking, there will be some original population Dairy Shorthorn.

He's been keeping them on his farm at Lakenheath and is expecting a lot of questions from people wondering what they are.

'There aren't very many and people don't know them. I encourage people to ask questions. I know people can feel a bit intimidated, by the size of the animals and perhaps by the farmers, but we want to meet people and talk to them,' he says.

While he and wife Julie and Esme enjoy a look about the show, they are keen to meet show visitors too.

'I do feel people are so disconnected with where their meat, and even bread, comes from. This show gives people the opportunity to come face to face with where their food comes from. I'll talk to anybody, everybody, I love it,' says Grainger.

He and the family, who have everything from cattle, sheep and pits to geese, ducks, swans and ponies on their farm, love the county and country feel at the show too.

'The Royal Norfolk Show is probably the best show we go to and we do get about the country. You get up at stupid o'clock and the dairy people are milking and washing and the beef people are washing and the steam is rising. You can't beat it. Our show has a really good atmosphere. It's traditional, it's modern, there's everything there.'

He's been attending the show since he was a little boy, showing for about 30 years and looking forward to showing off the original population Dairy Shorthorn.

• ALISON CULLUM

Headteacher and farmer's wife Alison Cullum wouldn't dream of missing the Royal Norfolk Show – and nor would her pupils.

For the past three years, all 225 pupils at St Mary's Junior School in Long Stratton have been taken by staff and parent helpers to the show – and this year it's going to be a special treat for the pupils in Year 5 only.

'We do all the different trails and it's really good. The children see a lot and learn so much. We really like it,' says Mrs Cullum.

'It's brilliant as a cultural event for the children to go to. It's really good for them to understand what goes on in the countryside, where their food comes from and it's a chance for them to look at traditional skills that they could perhaps be working with in the future.'

Mrs Cullum points out that pupils' tickets are free – the school child entrance fees can be reclaimed by returning completed school trail forms after the show. The only cost is transport, and that's funded by the Friends of the school.

The school has a stand too in the Schools tent, which this year will once again be manned by pupils. It has a First World War theme and showgoers will be able to learn about the research by St Mary's pupils and get involved in activities too, such as making poppies. They are hoping for a visit from Prince Edward too.

A Green Flag eco-school, environmental issues and the local area are key themes at the school, and the show fits this well, Mrs Cullum adds. The pupils do some work around things they've seen at the show, and this year they've joined the schools potato growing challenge too.

Although there wasn't an Inset day for schools timetabled for the Royal Norfolk Show for 2015, they are planning to take next year's Year 5 too.

'I think it's very important,' she says. 'They get so much from it. It's not only the trails, they like the countryside and gamekeeping area, and we always go to see Norwich City College. Easton College, and the Young Farmers.

'We watch what's happening in the Grand Ring, have an ice cream and see how many stickers they can collect. It's a very good, long, day out.'

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