New Royal Norfolk Show president Ben Turner will make farming education his key focus

Ben Turner, president of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association for 2018. Picture: Chris Hill.

Ben Turner, president of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association for 2018. Picture: Chris Hill. - Credit: Chris Hill

The new figurehead of this year's Royal Norfolk Show wants to make farming education the key theme of his presidential year – both for the public, and for workers in the industry.

Ben Turner, managing director of Norwich-based farm machinery dealer Ben Burgess, was elected president of show organiser the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association during the organisation's AGM at the Norfolk Showground.

He said it was a 'great honour' to be chosen, and hopes to use his tenure to help engage the public with Norfolk food and farming, but also to raise awareness of health and safety to improve the agricultural industry's poor accident record.

He succeeds the Dean of Norwich, the Very Rev Jane Hedges, who told RNAA members it was 'the most enormous privilege and joy' to be president – a role she, in turn, took over from UEA vice chancellor Prof David Richardson in 2017.

Mr Turner said: 'I have watched with admiration how the other presidents have engaged in their own fields. David Richardson brought science to the farming community, Jane Hedges has brought the cathedral so much closer, and my job is to follow in their footsteps and engage people with farming, and educate the public about what we do in agriculture.

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'Everyone needs to know where their food comes from, why it is so important that it is local, and understand the food miles and the financial implications that the money needs to stay local.

'And health and safety is just crucial in our world. We have got to improve health and safety within the rural environment. So many people are working on their own and working long hours and a simple mistake can be very costly, so we have got to get that across.'

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Mr Turner has previously been president of Norfolk Young Farmers, and of the Sandringham Association of Royal Warrant Holders – and he is currently the president of the Norfolk Farm Machinery Club (Normac).

But he said to be the figurehead of the Royal Norfolk Show was 'number one' in that list of honours, and he is looking forward to touring the show with his wife Elaine.

'We are very excited to have the opportunity to meet people and visit their stands,' he said. 'Ben Turner has always spent his life on the Ben Burgess stand. But this will be one year when I am to be allowed off to have a proper opportunity to visit and see what the show is all about.

'All the stand-holders around the show want people to come onto their stand and talk to them, so everyone should take the opportunity to walk onto a stand and learn why they are there.'

Mr Turner said it was a 'total surprise' to be given the role, adding: 'When you look at the list of past presidents and find yourself in there with the lords and ladies over the years, you feel very privileged.'

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