Agricultural shows are vital links between rural and urban life - Jill Thorp

Following a difficult first week back at school, John-William was elated to be back in wellies, sorting his lambs.

Jill Thorp says agricultural shows are vitally important. (JPIMedia).

He woke early on Saturday morning and spent the first couple of hours bouncing off the walls. By the time I’d had my morning brew and stepped out of the house, the yard was in chaos.

The dogs were out and tearing round, pet lambs bounced joyfully past, their field gate wide open and a small rosy-cheeked terror tore past me on his bike. I headed off in my riding gear, leaving Paul to control the little guy who looked like he was being fuelled by gallons of full sugar coca-cola.

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I caught up with them later that day, moving some ewes and lambs. There were two dogs, one old and steady, one young and rather gung-ho, plus a child, still high as a kite.

Amongst the increasingly frustrated and confused whistles and commands, John-William was told at one point to not only “look back” but “lie down” as well. I smiled over at Paul as he rolled his eyes and pushed his cap up onto the top of his head.

The sheep were eventually penned and the temptation to put John-William in the back of the pickup with the two dogs was resisted! The routine and confines of the classroom have come as quite a shock to our feral mini-shepherd.

The months of freedom, open space and free rein have helped him grow both mentally and physically.

His confidence and self belief have blossomed, leaving no room for self doubt. It’s difficult to explain why school is a necessity and his attendance is

non-negotiable.

His response being he learns everything he needs to at home on the farm, out on the hill, whether it be astride a saddle or quad bike. How can I argue with that?

I read an article recently about the future of the Royal Highland Show, the concern being its uncertainty.

A campaign has been started to raise funds to ensure this wonderful show will be back on track not only for next year but for 2022, which will mark its 200th anniversary.

The worry, of course, is not just for this show but all the other vitally important agricultural shows our great nation holds every year.

They will all be under immense pressure to secure sponsorship and backing to ensure they can go ahead at a time of great uncertainty.

As well as being a hugely intrinsic part of rural life, they provide a much needed reconnection for children and adults from heavily built-up urban areas, breaching what seems to be an ever increasing divide between the office and the field.

If just a handful of children can walk away from The Great Yorkshire or Royal Cheshire Show with a desire to grow their own food, work the land or try their hand at rural crafting, then it’s worth doing everything in our power to ensure each and everyone of these shows continues to highlight all that is wonderful about our country.

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Thank you

James Mitchinson