Farmer's big charity pedal challenge

South Norfolk farmer Charlie Askew is training hard for his sponsored ride in aid of the East Anglian Children's Hospices in late August. He plans to ride from Easton College to the Czech Republic - a distance of 973 miles for the appeal.

South Norfolk farmer Charlie Askew is training hard for his sponsored ride in aid of the East Anglian Children's Hospices in late August. He plans to ride from Easton College to the Czech Republic - a distance of 973 miles for the appeal. Next Sunday, the former dairy farmer will tour the county visiting as many milking herds as possible. He will grab a milk sample barcode as proof of his visit and then plans to finish at Ken and Rebecca Proctor's Grange Farm, Shipdham, near Dereham, where a young breeders' training school is taking place. It will still leave him with a fair ride back home to Buckenham. A support team including the youth development officer of Diss Rugby Football Club, Dave Hearnden-Hall, and friend Tony Cantle, and Rod Tuck, former county president of Norfolk young farmers are backing his expedition. Donations can be left at Angel, Larling, for Mr Askew's fund-raising venture.

South Norfolk beekeeper John Everett has become one of only four people in the country to gain a certificate in advanced beekeeping husbandry. He has to complete a lengthy practical examination, which included giving a brief lecture and demonstration, and also complete a written test, set by the British Beekeepers' Association. Given that John, who lives at the appropriately named Apple Bee Apiary at Rockland St Mary, and has been keeping bees for close to 40 years, it must comes as little surprise. He runs about 30 hives and is a great advocate for practical and professional beekeeping, which has inspired many to take up one of the oldest farming techniques. With the threat posed to the honey bee population from the varroa mite, which arrived in 1992, he has been a great campaigner to urge enthusiasts to adopt strict hive hygiene and biosecurity.

Members of Stalham Farmers' Club are invited to tour Lodge Farm, Felmingham, on Wednesday, by invitation of the chairman Tim Papworth. It starts at 6pm sharp and is followed by a light supper. The secretary, Frank Read, would appreciate numbers to assist with the catering. And on Sunday, July 30, the president, Roger Beck, and his wife, are holding the club's annual summer harvest barbecue. Tickets £12.50.

There was keen competition in the annual South Elmham St Margaret's cricket festival. The first matches were held last weekend against Rumburgh although David Woodgate was the top scorer with 45 for St Margaret. The games last Sunday started an hour earlier to avoid a clash with a football match in Germany. A team representing Beccles National Farmers' Union beat rivals Halesworth despite a gallant effort by Paul Howland, who scored an unbeaten 40. Then, Beccles played Durrants and again triumphed with Dominic Parker adding an unbeaten 32. In a shortened match, Halesworth played Durrants. It was won by Durrants, with an exhausted Nick Rudge scoring 25. He also ran 7 runs.


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Young handler Lucy Cook, of Cawston, ended the Royal Norfolk Show on a real high when she won the inter-breed beef title. Lucy, aged 15, was showing a Galloway owned by Francis Key, of Thurning, and won her age category and then received the Ray Cooke Trophy, presented to the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association by Ivan and June Cooke, of Oby, near Yarmouth.

One of the delights of the sixth form student day, organised by Richard Brooks, of Holt & District Farmers' Club, is the chance to enjoy a slice of chocolate cake. Marion Alston, of Manor Farm, Calthorpe, near Aylsham, was asked to bake some of her famous chocolate biscuit cake for the 50-strong army of helpers and stewards while husband Jim welcomed the visitors. From 6.30am, she was baking loads of cake and biscuits but one tray, destined to be served with afternoon tea, disappeared later that same morning. Apparently, it proved irrestible and was consumed before lunch.

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Sandy the Snail was the winner of the latest annual St Peter's Church fund-raising fete and snail race at Repps-cum-Bastwick, near Acle. Sandy, selected by churchwarden Alison McTaggart, was the clear winner at the fun race held by Sally and John Mitchell and family at Hall Farm. The event raised more than £1,000 towards the village's parish share of some £7,000. The decision to select a veteran snail, which still carried a trace of markings from last year's race, was a mistake. It failed to start and your diarist's wife, last year's champion, also failed to qualify for the grand final.

Farming's charity, the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, should be a big beneficiary of the grand cricket match at Salle Hall, near Reepham, on Sunday, July 16. The host, Sir John White, who is chairman of the charity's Norfolk arm, has invited friends and supporters to watch his team play Aylsham Agricultural Show Association. Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic and the gates will open from noon. Tickets cost £5, which covers the cost of tea, which will be provided by a team of RABI volunteers later in the afternoon. The match starts at 2pm and should finish by 6pm. Tickets from Sally Mitchell on 01692 670521 or David Hitcham 01603 278170 or 077755 43320.

Agriculture House, the new headquarters of the National Farmers' Union at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, has a most unusual topiary decoration on the lawn in front of the staff restaurant. The full-size statutue of a mature ram or it might have been a small bullock looked very appropriate given the setting on the National Agricultural Centre. Curiously, the caterers on behalf of the NFU of England and Wales had arranged for a dozen bottles of sparkling mineral water to be served to guests - sourced from Scotland!

Tory leader David Cameron, the MP for Witney in West Oxfordshire, who looked rather hot and bothered in Monday's 35 C heat at the Royal Show, Warwickshire, was backing a campaign for more home-grown food. He stood patiently in the baking sunshine as the Farmers Weekly's team briefed a small gathering about its food miles campaign against a noisy background of a rubbish collection a few yards away. When the dust cart moved away, Mr Cameron was able to report his latest success and contribution to reduced food miles. He had grown his first (completely straight) cucumbers just two yards from the backdoor of his kitchen at his London home. Food inches not miles, he said.

Farmers' leader Peter Kendall was given a good ticking off by his young son when he arrived at his village school. “Please don't come as the president of the NFU,” Mr Kendall, who was elected to the National Farmers' Union's top post last February, was told. “Come in your scruffy clothes, now that's really cool.”

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