Halifax Show, organised by the Halifax Agricultural Society since 1838, is a very special show to the 15,000 it regularly attracts and hosts one of the largest cattle sections outside of the Great Yorkshire Show.
Colonel Stephen Padgett OBE was more simply Lieutenant Stephen Padgett all those years ago. Stephen said he vividly recalls his first day at Halifax Show in 1982.
“I’d met Amanda, the girl who was to become my wife, and she had taken me to Halifax Show. Amanda’s family connection with Halifax goes back generations and we now live close by in Southowram.
“I’d thought what a lovely event this was and whenever we had been in the UK over the years we had always made a point of attending when we could, now I find myself involved in the show.”
Stephen has had a stellar career with the army. He was Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan and spent two-and-a-half years working in The Pentagon. He is currently chief executive of the National Horseracing College and has a number of voluntary roles as a result of his military career.
Stephen said he is now involved in another voluntary role but this time with Halifax Show, due to the passing of a man whom many will recall fondly for his chairmanship of the society and his penchant for a very different form of livestock at the show.
“Jeff Gill was a staunch Halifax Show man,” said Colonel Padgett.
“The committee was starting to ramp up towards putting the show back on last year when Jeff sadly passed away. He had been show chairman and was involved with Halifax Beekeepers’ Association which always produces a hugely popular attraction at the show with observation hives in the bee tent.
“Jeff’s wife Dianne is show treasurer and their daughter Vicky runs the show website. I was asked to come on board to assist, but it is important to point out that I’m not classed as the new chairman as there hasn’t been a meeting in which a chairman could be elected. I’m delighted though to be helping out this year. I have no discernible skills but I do have experience of leading people and making things work.”
Stephen said the people behind Halifax Show are many and all wholly committed to the show’s future.
“We strive very deliberately to make Halifax Show as much as possible a traditional agricultural show with so much that is rural. Our cattle entries are phenomenal. We will have over 200-head of cattle on the showground with many classes and many pedigree breeds. We have seven cattle rings and the biggest cattle cover outside of the Great Yorkshire Show.
“To some outsiders looking in and seeing the show set in Savile Park, with all of the buildings in the town from the days of the Industrial Revolution, there might be a question over what agriculture is doing here but take a look all around in 360 degrees and there are moors, trees and countryside in every direction. Agriculture is why industry was born here.
“We are all striving to preserve that ‘country comes to town’ feel and we are all conscious of Halifax Show being about educating the public about farming and where food comes from.”
He added: “Show secretary Mandy Bush pulls everything and everyone together and sustains the committee; Dan Beaumont is vice chairman of the society. Dan lives near me. It’s largely down to Dan that everything is set up for the show, using his agricultural contracting machinery; Dean Fleming is the man with the job of pulling together all the cattle classes and having them all running smoothly. Dean is also the show president.
“We have Sarah Lloyd who ensures membership is kept up as membership secretary; Lizzie Greenwood runs the sheep classes following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather; Sarah Mangham runs the horse section and we are an affiliated show; Julian Clough looks after the goats; and Norma Riley the handicrafts, there are many more too."
Stephen said he has particularly fond memories of the handicraft section as he and Amanda’s daughter Georgina, now a major in the Royal Army Dental Corps, won a handwriting class in the aged six and under class.
“Halifax Show still has all of those traditional classes and we are all committed to retaining them. I am merely a member of the society committee at present but I’m also delighted to be assisting a group of dedicated capable people.
“We are all looking forward tremendously to the return of Halifax Show,” he said.