This year's Great Yorkshire Show marks 45 years of supporting our native rare breeds

This year’s Great Yorkshire Show, which starts on Tuesday, will mark a 45-year partnership supporting our native rare breeds.

York Rare Breed Society (RBST) Support Group will be on the Harrogate Showground for the duration of the show, which for the first time is running over four days due to Covid restrictions.

Working with the Dales RBST Support Group, they will be showcasing rare breed animals which are facing an uncertain future and sharing their stories with visitors as they have done for almost half a century.

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“The Yorkshire Agricultural Society has always been so supportive of the Yorkshire RBST support groups,” said York RBST Support Group chair, Lyn Raskelf.

The York RBST Support Group, along with the Dales group are celebrating 45 years at the Great Yorkshire Show

Lyn, who runs Raskelf Rare Breeds near York said it all started with an initial invitation from the YAS to be part of the show.

“We have been there ever since and we would really like to thank the society for its support and for holding our work in high regard.”

Lyn said the stand is always busy during the show with people stopping to meet the animals and find out more about them and it is a success due to the dedication of the volunteers.

“People put so much into it. One year we had a grand parade in the main ring and the team at Temple Newsam Farm, which specialises in rare breeds, provided a bull, cow and calf of every rare breed and halter-trained virtually all of them.

The Show will fly the flag for farming

The volunteer team also rose to the occasion when Prince Charles, a keen supporter of rare breed conservation and Patron of the Badger Face Welsh Mountain Breed Society, visited the show.

“We were asked to put on a small parade of sheep with about an hour’s notice,” Lyn said.

“Everyone mucked in and we managed to get a display together which included the Badger Face Welsh Mountain. Prince Charles was lovely and very knowledgeable, he spoke to everyone taking part and we received a thank you letter from the Palace afterwards.”

Lyn said one of the elements they enjoy most about being at the Great Yorkshire Show is meeting people who often don’t know anything about rare breeds.

“I think there is much more interest in rare breeds and the support groups are the direct line to the public. We have people on the stand who don’t have animals but want to support rare breeds and if you have a passion and enthusiasm for the subject it comes across.

“At the Great Yorkshire Show we have people who come to the tent every year and people who come when they arrive and then before they leave to see the animals. That is what makes it so fulfilling, we know the animals and our work is appreciated.”

As well as established stands, there will be some new elements to the show this year including a display by Yorkshire Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) groups which are just beginning to reopen after the pandemic lockdowns.

On Thursday, July 15, RDA showjumping, dressage and carriage driving will run alongside a Countryside Challenge event with riders of all abilities taking part.

“This is a great way for the RDA to demonstrate how it has weathered the Covid pandemic and is now beginning to pick up its activities again and we are grateful to the Great Yorkshire Show organisers for giving us this opportunity,” said John Chuter, RDA regional chairman.

Mr Chuter said nationally the RDA is planning to grow its membership during the next five years and will be piloting more equestrian themed activities that may appeal to other disabled groups such as Tea with a Pony.

“This has proved to be highly successful for one group based in the Cotswolds, especially in its therapeutic benefits for those with dementia, and I am keen to have it piloted here in Yorkshire.”

While Covid restrictions have meant a slightly different format, there is plenty to see with Main Ring attractions including the Atkinson Action Horse team, soprano Lizzie Jones and the Grand Cattle Parade.

Show director, Charles Mills, said: “This will be a very special Great Yorkshire Show and one we are all so looking forward to after these difficult times. It will be a slightly different show to normal but we have done our best to bring you an event which will fly the flag for farming and celebrate our industry.”

Nigel Pulling, chief executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, which organises the Great Yorkshire Show, said the safety of the public, exhibitors and their animals, staff, volunteers and everyone who is part of the show is paramount.

“We continue to work closely with North Yorkshire County Council Public Health and Harrogate Borough Council to deliver a Covid-safe event.”