Norfolk boy Jake Humphrey fronts Royal Norfolk Show

New president Jake Humphrey at the Royal Norfolk Showground. Photo: Steve Adams

New president Jake Humphrey at the Royal Norfolk Showground. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

He's swapped the high octane glitz and glamour of the world's greatest motor racing series for fatherhood, football and the top seat at the Royal Norfolk Show, Jake Humphrey tells JO MALONE why this year's Royal Norfolk Show is going to be the best ever – and why he's hoping there won't be any geese.

New president Jake Humphrey at the Royal Norfolk Showground. Photo: Steve Adams

New president Jake Humphrey at the Royal Norfolk Showground. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Millions of motor racing fans couldn't understand why Jake Humphrey would walk away from his super slot presenting Formula 1 racing for the BBC with David Coultard and Eddie Jordan.

Why swap life jetting around some of the world's most glamorous cities, interviewing the world's fastest racing drivers and mingling with some of the world's most beautiful people for a job, literally on the sidelines?

He's fronting BT Sport, the new rival to Sky Sports, bringing live sport from Premiership football to rugby, tennis, and more, to our living rooms.

But see him gently stroking the cheek of his nine-week-old daughter Florence as he talks, or tenderly helping wife Harriet out the door with the buggy, and it's obvious why he's left the constantly travelling world of F1.


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He's absolutely besotted with his girls and wants to be at home as much as possible.

The call to be president of Royal Norfolk Show 2013 couldn't have come at a better time, and he's thrown himself into the role with as much passion as he clearly gives everything he believes in.

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'I'm a boy from a Norfolk village and I can't believe I am lucky enough to do this. I'm not intending to use this as an ego boost, the whole point of doing this is for me to try and benefit the show.

'I will be so disappointed if we don't have a record turnout and people don't say that it's the best show they have ever had – and that the president really did his job,' says Jake.

He's keen to see people who either haven't been to the show before, or perhaps haven't been for a while, come this year.

'Whether you come from a long line of farmers or have never been in a field, come and see that it has some relevancy to you.

'Farming and rural activities define Norfolk and we cannot pretend we are anything else,' he says.

He's a strong, and vocal, supporter of locally produced food and celebrator of Norfolk's agricultural heritage, keen to share his vision of everyone in the county fully understanding how food gets from field to plate.

'Come and meet the rare breed farmers at the show, afterwards you will leave and think twice about where your food comes from; you will want to know if that's Norfolk pork, and if it isn't, why isn't it,' he says.

A former Framingham Earl High School and Hewett School sixth form pupil, Jake is immensely proud of Norfolk and the Royal Norfolk Show, feeling it represents all that the county does best.

'We should not be anything other than incredibly proud that we come from such a great county,' he says.

'It's a legendary show. I am determined to give it my best to make it a success,' he says, adding that being made President is his proudest moment.

A Norwich City fan, he's planning to move back here from London too, as both he and wife Harriet are keen for Florence to have a similar rural upbringing to the one they enjoyed. They've already discovered that she sleeps wonderfully in Norfolk, after a couple of days with his parents at Stoke Holy Cross.

'She slept from 11pm to 6am, that's the best sleep she, and we, have had. It's the Norfolk air,' he adds.

Her taste of Norfolk is continuing with the Royal Norfolk Show, with all the family, including grandparents, attending.

'It was not too long ago that I was going to the show as a school kid, collecting all the stickers and the plastic bags, wandering around with my mates, nibbling on a hog roast, sitting on a tractor, watching the RAF Falcons, and having fun. It will be odd to be back there with my bowler hat,' he says, adding that one of his jobs on the show days is to tip his bowler hat in the Grand Ring.

He's 34, a TV presenter, the second youngest President of the Royal Norfolk Show and the first one, he's noticed, not to have any letters before or after his name, so bowler hats haven't featured a great deal in his wardrobe.

'I'm going to have to practise,' he says.

His family are farmers and he recalled being on 'fire fighter' duty aged about 14 on his uncle's farm in the days when farmers were allowed to burn off the stubble. He and his cousin's job was driving about on the fields with a big tank of water in case a fire headed where it wasn't wanted.

Even now, while he has a healthy respect for animals and a definite phobia of geese, he quite fancies some elements of the farming life.

'I do like the idea of sitting aloft my tractor, slowing down the traffic,' he laughs.

Jake can't wait for the Royal Norfolk Show and is looking forward to seeing as much of it as possible with a jam-packed itinerary already planned.

'There is an unbelievable amount of things to see and do,' he says.

Already used to being recognised, he's looking forward to meeting other show visitors too.

'People are normally really friendly,' he says, and he likes to stop and chat whenever he can.

'I've met a few of my heroes and some of them have really let me down. I would hate someone who looks up to me to meet me and feel I'd let them down,' he says.

But he's hoping to chat Norfolk life, rather than football, pointing out that while F1 fans are happy to discuss the sport, football fans often have very firm views.

'People have a definite opinion about football and it is really easy to offend them,' he says.

So come to the show, enjoy the displays, the stands, the animals, the machinery, the food, the activities, the school trails and the celebration of Norfolk life – and make time to say hello to Jake Humphrey, welcoming and approachable 2013 President of the Royal Norfolk Show.

'I can't wait,' he adds.

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