How a farming community pulled together to help Malton Show mount a spectacular post-Covid comeback

“What are you doing on the 25th?” The question is posed by Vic Bruce, livestock haulier and vice chairman of Malton Show that takes place next Sunday at Scampston Hall, six miles east of the market town.

“Because you can have my job,” he adds with a varying degree of humour and stark reality which he explains further following last year’s record-breaking return of the show and because of the way things are looking for next weekend.

“We normally attract around 12,000, but last year was just phenomenal. We had no idea of the numbers that would attend and in the end we had just short of 17,000. We had lost two years through Covid and the restrictions and like many others we really didn’t know what to expect, but when the opportunity was there to do life again people came out and supported us and I thank everybody for doing that.

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“It wasn’t just the public coming in big numbers either, we had record entries for livestock, and this year we have record entries once again.

Vic Bruce, Vice Chairman of Malton Show, and Anne Welham, Secretary of Malton Show, with young farmer Emma Allen, of North Farm, Ryton, near Malton, and some of her goatsVic Bruce, Vice Chairman of Malton Show, and Anne Welham, Secretary of Malton Show, with young farmer Emma Allen, of North Farm, Ryton, near Malton, and some of her goats
Vic Bruce, Vice Chairman of Malton Show, and Anne Welham, Secretary of Malton Show, with young farmer Emma Allen, of North Farm, Ryton, near Malton, and some of her goats

Vic says the increased attendance of nearly 50 per cent had a massive impact on the showground facilities.

“It was the first time we’d had to open up the overflow car park and we had to make that decision around 11.30 to midday. That’s when we realised that we had a problem, because where we are it is important that we are not impacting on the traffic flow on the A64 otherwise everybody gets quite upset.

There had been little indication that the show was going to make its comeback in such spectacular fashion.

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“We had felt far beforehand that it was going to be a funny year. We had been watching what other shows were doing in the weeks leading up to ours because at the time we still weren’t sure whether we could go ahead but when we got the all clear it was really quite exciting.

“One thing we weren’t at all sure of was whether there had been such a change in retail trends during the lockdowns that we would have as many tradestands as we’d had prior to the pandemic. Would those traders no longer want to come to shows because they were doing it online?

Vic says any fears he and the Malton Show committee had had proved completely unfounded.

“On the day it was just so nice to see the number of people that wanted to come out and support the show and to see everybody having a good day. We didn’t know whether some might say they were not coming because of risk of Covid flaring up in mass gatherings.

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“It was great to see everybody smiling and enjoying the day and it was particularly pleasing for all of those who put the show on.

“Malton Show is a team effort and without that you’re nothing. You need good people around who all pull together and we have that. It’s like an unspoken word. Everybody knows what they need to do, and they get on and do it. It’s marvellous. You can’t beat a good team.

After last year’s successful return Vic says the excitement and anticipation for this year’s show has been building for some time.

“We can’t believe the interest in the show this year. When you have such a cracking day, as we did last year, it makes people interested in coming back, because they’ve had a good day out. You can’t make people want to come, but it’s nice when they actually want to without you pushing.

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Malton Show has always had a great show of livestock, which is helped by the show having a permanent office in The Shambles in Malton next to the livestock market and run by Anne Welham.

“Anne’s daughter, Emma Allen, shows cattle and goats. We have classes for pedigree and commercial animals in the cattle and sheep,” says Vic. “We also have classes for goats, alpacas, heavy horses, ponies and horses. I used to take part in the horse classes years ago, and for a while in the cattle classes with David Hall but just don’t have time for showing now.

“This year we’ve some really interesting attractions that I’m sure everyone will enjoy. We have the largest private collection of giant tortoises, hopefully there will be eight of them. We will also have another first for us with a gundog display team and Ferret World explaining how ferrets were introduced into this country for hunting purposes.

Philip Place, who has had a long career as an auctioneer at Boulton & Cooper and Malton livestock market is this year’s show president and vice president is Christine Mason who farms at Wold Newton and whose late husband Roland was also a prominent farmer and livestock breeder.

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“We like to honour local people who have done so much for the farming world and community with the distinction of taking on these roles,” says Vic. “Philip and Mrs Mason are both well-known around the Malton area. Philip served the mart well for many years and Mrs Mason is a renowned Belgian Blue breeder and has been very successful in show ring.

There are many more who Vic feels deserves special recognition.

“All of the committee and everyone who stewards or helps out in any way is important to the show’s continued success and particularly our current chairman Charlie Breese, our mainstay. I first got involved in 2015-16 when Alan Tate-Smith was chairman, another who gave so much.

“We are also very grateful to the Legard family who first welcomed us here in 1998 after we left the old showfield in Malton. You couldn’t wish for a better site. It is beautiful.

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“It is also excellent land condition for hosting a show. It could pour down the night beforehand and it wouldn’t make a difference because of the sand land.

Vic and his wife Aimee have some cattle of their own back at home in Thorpe Bassett not far from Scampston.

“We have a few suckler cows and a few calves on bucket feeding, just commercials. My dad was responsible for the suckler herd for the Dawnay family at West Heslerton Farms and I grew up with livestock. Every chance I got on weekends and school holidays I would work with the Stones family of East Heslerton and JD Ireland on their farms.

“I wanted to go into farming but dad said I should get a trade and I was fortunate to get an apprenticeship with Plaxton coachbuilders in Scarborough. John Ireland took me on and I got into haulage. I then became a haulier and today I haul pigs, deer, cattle and sheep.

“So, I have my farming interest and I’ve kept my livestock involvement, as well as helping grow Malton Show. We are all looking forward to another great one on Sunday June 25 at Scampston Park.

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