Dean of Norwich, the Very Rev Jane Hedges, appointed as Royal Norfolk Show president

Dean of Norwich, the Very Rev Jane Hedges. Photo: Steve Adams

Dean of Norwich, the Very Rev Jane Hedges. Photo: Steve Adams

The president of this year's Royal Norfolk Show hopes to unite farming and church communities to improve understanding of the food industry, and to focus on people's physical, mental and spiritual health.

The Dean of Norwich, the Very Rev Jane Hedges, has been appointed by the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) to be its figurehead for the year.

The former Canon of Westminster Abbey moved to Norfolk in 2014 to become the first woman Dean of Norwich, overseeing the life of the cathedral.

She said it was 'an enormous privilege and an honour' to be asked to preside over the county's summer spectacular at the Norfolk Showground, and she will use the opportunity to recreate the traditional links between the farming seasons and church services, such as Plough Sunday in January, Lammas in July and the Harvest Festival in October.

'There are a number of points when the agricultural year has crossed over into the liturgical year, the main one being harvest festival,' she said. 'But this year we are re-introducing some more of these traditional Sundays like Rogation Sunday, which is traditionally the time when they celebrate the sowing of the seeds and ask God's blessing on the crop. It was when local churches went out and did 'beating the bounds' around the parish, so this year on May 28 at Evensong we shall go and beat the bounds around the outside of Cathedral Close.

'Another one is Lammas, which is traditionally the time when they celebrate the first crop of wheat. On July 30 we will keep Lammas Sunday and give thanks for the bread.'

The dean said the theme for her presidential year would be 'healthy living'.

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'As human beings we have multiple needs because we are complex people,' she said. 'We have physical needs but we also have psychological and mental needs to keep our mind and spirit healthy. We want to think about how we bring those things together and how they link up.

'Research says if you have a healthy diet it keeps you mentally and physically fit as well. We are going to have a healthy living day at the cathedral in February. There is also the science community, with the Norwich Research Park and all the food research that goes together with it. There are so many places where people's interests cross over.

'One of the great things about the cathedral is it is a place where people come together, and it is a great place to celebrate and carry on the theme of education so the wider population can get to know about all these things that are going on around them.'

Continuing the wellbeing theme, the dean said her chosen charity for the year would be farming's mental health charity YANA (You Are Not Alone), adding: 'It's an opportunity to highlight their work, and it is about mental wellbeing and being a part of communities that support each other.'

The dean takes over as RNAA president from Prof David Richardson, the vice chancellor of the UEA.