Online event will help fill the void after Royal Norfolk Show cancellation

The cancellation of summer events like the Royal Norfolk Show due to the coronavirus pandemic has le

The cancellation of summer events like the Royal Norfolk Show due to the coronavirus pandemic has left a void which "The Greatest Online Agricultural Show" is hoping to fill this weekend. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The cancellation of events including the Royal Norfolk Show amid the coronavirus lockdown has left a void which an online agricultural show is hoping to fill this weekend, while raising money for good causes including Norfolk-based mental health charity YANA (You are Not Alone). Charity patron Melinda Raker, one of the virtual exhibitors, explains the value of such events to rural communities.

Melinda Raker, patron of Norfolk-based mental health charity YANA (You Are Not Alone). Picture: DENI

Melinda Raker, patron of Norfolk-based mental health charity YANA (You Are Not Alone). Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

The Royal Norfolk Show has to be the highlight of the Norfolk farming year – a chance to meet friends, visit the numerous stands, enjoy the bands, the huge variety of displays in the Grand Arena and admire the beautifully turned out livestock.

To lose this year’s show is devastating for the RNAA (Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association) and its staff who had already committed so much organisational time to the event, but it also impacts on so many people in so many ways – the thousands of prospective visitors, the caterers, the stand holders, the charities, the performers, the school children.

We know that those working in the rural sector are invariably working alone or in isolation and this was a wonderful way of meeting so many friends.

We have long lost the rural meeting places – the pubs, the village shop, the livestock and corn markets and with fewer people engaged with farming, the camaraderie of the workforce. The mental health charity specifically for those in the rural sector, YANA (You Are Not Alone), is well aware of the impact that isolation can have.

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These are challenging times indeed. Those in farming are used to living in isolation, but being out in the countryside in the current circumstances is so different to being in an inner city flat, but the implications are still there.

We all miss the social contact with our friends, our families, colleagues and just the ordinary, everyday interaction with others as we go about our normal business. This will inevitably impact on us all but for those who do not enjoy the best of mental health, it is incredibly tough. YANA is still there for those who need support: the confidential helpline continues, the fully-funded counselling is still available by phone or video link. We want people to know that if they need support, they are not alone.

READ MORE: ‘The real effect is inestimable’ – Royal Norfolk Show cancelled amid coronavirus crisis

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One farmer in Berkshire, David Hill, aware that almost all the rural shows had been cancelled, instigated The Greatest Online Agricultural Show with YANA being one of the five beneficiaries, along with RABI, RSABI, FCN, and the DPJ Foundation.

Taking place from 9am on Saturday, May 2, it has attracted around 800 entries across 200 livestock, poultry and dog classes, with many competitors from Norfolk already signed up. There is also entertainment, a virtual beer tent – even the Red Arrows are performing. It has already raised over £10,000 from donations, entry fees and trade stand charges, but interestingly has also generated a good number of new visitors to the YANA website.

It will be well worth a visit on Saturday – view online at The Greatest Online Agricultural Show website, or see or @OnlineAgShow.

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