Marjorie’s stash in the attic for Ripley show day

Marjorie Periam, Ripley Show secretary, and her grand daughter Amber Smith, prepare for this Sunday's Ripley Show.  Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Marjorie Periam, Ripley Show secretary, and her grand daughter Amber Smith, prepare for this Sunday's Ripley Show. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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Decampment of the Periam girls from an attic in Otley will be taking place today in readiness for tomorrow’s big day at Ripley where Sir Thomas and Lady Emma Ingilby will once again play host to an agricultural show that has doubled in attendance since playing second fiddle to a wedding booking some years ago.

“The change of day from having been the second Saturday in August to the second Sunday has been wonderfully successful,” says show secretary for the past 17 years, Marjorie Periam.

“Ripley Castle had a wedding booked for show day Saturday one year and we were asked whether we would change to Sunday. We have benefitted enormously in all kinds of ways.

“Our attendance figure is now around 8,000 whereas when I started it was more like 4,000-5,000. Sir Thomas and Lady Emma are extremely sociable too and get involved in the members’ tent meeting and greeting as well as judging the fancy dress competition.

“I find the day itself extremely exciting and I have all of my family with me in the secretary’s tent looking after everything. There are my two daughters Tamzin and Heidi and my granddaughter Amber who knows the show inside out and she’s only 17.”

In the months leading up to the event Marjorie’s work, like that of many show secretaries, steadily increases. She manages those times pretty much on her own at home where she lives with husband, former auctioneer Richard.

“I start getting under way in December each year but the entries don’t come in until after the Great Yorkshire Show in July. That leaves a week before the closing date and it is bedlam. That’s when Tamzin, Heidi and Amber come over. We’re all up and down the attic staircase. Show paraphernalia such as rosettes and catalogues and everything we’ll need on the day is stored everywhere in the house and our shed.”

Marjorie was a fashion buyer for Kendal Milne in Manchester, which was part of the Harrods group. She travelled all around the UK and Europe visiting fashion houses and introduced Mary Quant’s miniskirts to Manchester in the 1960s.

“I’ve been in Yorkshire since 1970 so fingers crossed I’m nearly accepted now. I worked at Simon Thornton’s estate agency in Ilkley, have raised my family here and met Richard through the Bramham Hunt.

“I started riding horses as a child and remember going to a local horse show at Chassen Road in Urmston but I hadn’t been to Ripley Show until I was asked to get involved as secretary after I had retired.”

While the equine world has also seen Marjorie take part in cavalry musical rides all over the UK riding sidesaddle with friends, she is more keen than ever that Ripley Show maintains its agricultural show heritage.

“I’m determined that we will continue to be seen as an agricultural show first and foremost. We have over 600 sheep entries, around 60 cattle and 30 pigs. We’re doing really well in certain sheep classes such as Ryelands and now Coloured Ryelands and we’ve introduced a primitive sheep class this year that has proved popular with the Soay, Hebridean and Manx Loaghton breeds.

“We also have our fair share of the major breeds such as Blue Faced Leicester, Mule, Texel and Charollais.

“Cattle entries include a strong Highland breed class and good numbers in the native and commercial classes.

“It’s very easy for shows to go down the horse route but agriculture is what this show is all about. I will never hand over the reins to anyone who doesn’t love it the same way.”

Marjorie took on the role of show secretary from Freda Skelton.

“I’d been around other shows with my sidesaddle demonstrations and I used to go to Weeton Show so I had an idea of what to expect. It is always a delight and we are certainly a very friendly show. We encourage everyone to come.

“Our main ring is split into four separate rings until lunchtime and then transforms into the main ring for our headliner.

“Last year we had action horses, this year it is New Zealander Stuart Barnes with his excellent Dog and Duck Show.”


There is not much that gets in the way of Marjorie’s pre-show activity except a certain sports event.

“I have to have Wimbledon on in my attic. I can’t function properly without knowing how Andy Murray is getting on.”

The growth of Ripley Show means sheep classes are held at the other side of the castle’s lake. Free car parking is just across the B6165 road to Pateley Bridge.

Show highlights include falconry, drystone walling, terrier racing, dog agility, a companion dog show, sheepdog trials and Richard Savory’s Sheep Show.

Ripley Show takes place tomorrow, Sunday, August 14.