by David Sapsed
I am pleased to report another enjoyable year for the Club. Anyone connected with agriculture will know that this has been a see-saw year with prices up and down in different sectors. Never has the old saying of “up corn down corn” been more relevant with corn prices rising dramatically and beef going in the opposite direction. However there is still a god trade for quality cattle.
Our new season of events commenced as usual at the Farmers Club with a well attended AGM. I must thank Janet Jones for agreeing to take over as our Club Treasurer, a role that her late husband Mike had held for many years. I would also like to pay tribute to Neville Ealdon who recently passed away; he was our Honuary Auditor. We all send our condolences to his Family at this sad time. After the AGM Bridget Borlase gave us a most interesting and informative talk on the development of her very successful Bridget ‘B’ Meat operation.
In May members attended the first of our herd visits which was held at Lopmede Farm, owned by John and Ellen Rixon, situated near Thame. This impressive 180 Pedigree Cow Herd is run on economic and commercial lines. We were transported on a trailer round the fields and I must say that the cattle all looked very well; it was also interesting to see that John is going down the polled route. At the end of the visit Ellen laid on a superb lunch.
The show season started in May and good entries were reported at most of the shows in our region; Herts County led the way with 49. Here Vicky Woods placed the Birch family’s Treetops Tallulah Breed Champion with Clonagh World Class reserve; Tallulah went on to win the Interbreed Champion. Well done Boomer Dirnanean Sarah from Heathbrow was Champion at South of England with Boars Head Argonaut reserve. Beeches Wisp and Heathbrow Admiral were placed reserve Interbreed in the pairs and Admiral went on to win reserve Interbreed Beefbreeder. Kent show unfortunately coincided with the National and there were fewer cattle forward but Beeches Wisp deservedly won Breed Champion.
The National drew a very good representation from the South East area which resulted in class wins for Pode Hole and Swallowhill. Sacombe won Junior Male Champion with Clonagh World Class, Heathbrow won three firsts, including Best Calf in the Simmental classes with Heathbrow Balmoral, before Hayley Clarke won Junior Champion with Sterling Grace’s Wilhemina and the following day the coveted Junior Interbreed Championship. Well done everyone for making the long trip.
Giles Green had Champion at East of England and Perrywood Wispa took the Breed Championship at Edenbridge. Sway Rosetta was reserve Champion at New Forest and finally at Bucks County, with Jimmy McMillan as our Judge, Dirnanean Sarah won Breed Champion and Reserve Continental Interbreed with Perrywood Wispa Reserve. Our ladies once again looked after the Show hospitality with excellent eats and drinks.
The climax of the season was the result of our new competition, sponsored by Westpoint Veterinary Services, the SE Simmental of the year. This was won by Dirnanean Sarah, shown by Heathbrow. The competition was designed to encourage more entries at our sponsored shows and every animal attending a show had the chance to accumulate points towards the Westpoint Trophy and a cash prize.
The Herd Competition was judged by Vicky Woods this year and we very much appreciated both Jimmy and Vicky giving up their time to join us in the SE area for three days. All the competitors were pleased to see them and received their constructive comments.
The junior judging competitions this year were held at the Royal Highland which ruled out most of our team because of the distance involved. However Emma Blomfield and Luke travelled to Scotland where they
Our autumn herd visit was a joint day. In the morning we visited the Ravensdale herd where Brenda, the herd manager, made us welcome. Ravensdale is more noted amongst the Sussex breed but the foundations are being laid and, from what we saw, it will not be long before this herd will be as famous for Simmentals. In the afternoon we visited Boars Head, a herd which is now consistently producing show winners and it was not difficult to understand why due to the strength in the female families on view. Boars Head Argonaut has been shown successfully this season and was runner up in the SE Simmental of the year. He continued his good form by winning 1st prize at the Sterling Bull Sales in October and selling for a tremendous 7,200gns.
Our members once again supported the Bristol sales and trade in April was very satisfactory. In October Sway Simmentals were male Champion and Boars Head were Female Champion. Well done to the Blomfields and Rhys respectively and to all our members who attended the show and sale.
Our Calf show moved to a later date this year and we were able to obtain a licence to hold the show on a farm. Heathbrow were hosts for the day and a very good entry of 39 calves and handlers resulted. Boomer Birch kindly travelled down to judge the calves and he made Heathbrow Balmoral Champion with Swallowhill Autumn Reserve. William Abram was champion handler and Lizzie Harding took reserve. Sacombe won the Pairs Trophy. We had a new award this year – Our President, Judy Borlase, presented the Sacombe Trophy to a young member who, in her opinion, has ‘contributed the most to promote the club and breed throughout the year’. This prestigious award was deserverdly won by Emma Blomfield. The show was a great success with over 80 members, friends and visitors attending. My thanks to all the helpers who made the day run so smoothly. The weather was fantastic for the time of year which was the icing on the cake. Now that we have made a good start our idea is to rotate the show around the region thus sharing organization and sponsorship.
The final event on our calendar is always the autumn meeting followed by our dinner and prize giving. This year over 30 members joined in to hear Neil Shand, our new Chief Executive, express his thoughts and ideas for the future of the Society.
My final duty is to thank my wife Lesley for all her work in the background also Peter Grenham, our secretary, and many other club members who have supported me during my two years in office.