It has been one of the brightest stars in Yorkshire’s summer agricultural show season for the past 30 years attracting a crowd of 8,000, but this year, like other show sites, the fields at Cattal Moor Lane will remain empty.
Michelle Lee was all set to enjoy her honorary role as show president having been involved for nearly 20 years. She initially took on the role of produce and preserves steward then served as treasurer, trophy steward and, more recently, has been based in the secretary’s tent on show day trying to help solve whatever problems arise.
While Michelle is already now planning and looking forward to next year’s show, which will take place on Sunday, August 1, Yorkshire Day, her hopes are that more volunteers will come forward to take on roles and replace those who have either moved away or have quite simply done their turn.
“We are all very proud of our show. You don’t have to be entrenched in farming, horticulture or have been born here to take on a role,” she said.
“I grew up in Gomersal, near Cleckheaton in West Yorkshire. I’ve lived in Tockwith for 26 years and was recruited over the course of a drink in the Spotted Ox by two of the show’s long-standing protagonists Norman Waller and Sam Blacker.
“I wasn’t someone who’d been a member of a Women’s Institute nor the Yorkshire Countrywoman’s Association, nor did I have a passion for baking, but that’s not what being a steward or secretary of any section is all about.
“I found that by giving something a go there are always people around that are more than happy to offer support.”
Michelle’s plea on today’s Yorkshire Day is for more people to come forward to take on a role at Tockwith & District Agricultural Show to ensure its continuance.
“Sometimes it’s simply about having enough people around to physically create the showground rather than looking for any longer-term commitment, but we do also have urgent, specific roles that need filling right now.
“Our horticulture classes need a new steward or two people who are prepared to share the load, perhaps a couple may be interested.
“It would be great for those who have a passion for flowers, flower arranging or gardening but really it is more about having someone who would just like to play their part in the show.
“We are also looking for someone to take on responsibility for stewarding the farmers’ market. We were one of the first agricultural shows in Yorkshire to introduce this section and it could be great for someone who is a real foodie. It is a delightful part of the show to be involved with and includes cookery demonstrations.
“The big position we are looking to fill is show secretary and we’ve had some fabulous people in the past including Norman (Waller) and Steve Ross more recently.
“Unfortunately, Steve has now moved away and we could do with someone urgently.
“The role includes the administrative side of the show including our involvement with the Yorkshire Federation of Show Societies, keeping all of our various licences up to date and being an anchor/information point for the other secretaries and stewards.”
Michelle has been on the show committee since she started her involvement and became one of the first directors of the society’s limited company as well as a trustee of the charity.
“We have a fabulous committee that currently runs to 38 people and we have new people coming forward. Steph Hughes, granddaughter of farmer Philip Hughes of Angram Grange, took over as chief sheep steward last year and there have been others too, but we need to keep adding to our throng.
“It’s sometimes naïve to think that everyone in the area knows about the show.
“I recall when we were fundraising to buy the showfield in 2003-04 and we went door-to-door, letting people know what was going on. There were many who said they had either never been to the show or didn’t know anything about it.
“Our aim is to ensure that our community is able to share in the area’s rich agricultural heritage and have a great day out.
“It’s all about educating and entertaining.
“We are already planning for next year’s show on Yorkshire Day, but maybe this Yorkshire Day we might just ignite the fire in some from around the Tockwith and district area to join us in putting on a really great show once again.”
“There are quite possibly some amazing people that we don’t know about who could really help to propel the show further forward.”