South of England Show to be opened by Good Life star Penelope

South of England Summer Show 2012
South of England Summer Show 2012

The farming community from across the South East will be out in force today at the start of this year’s South of England Show.

The event that attracts upwards of 80,000 people will be opened by South of England Agricultural Society president Penelope Keith.

Better known as Margo Leadbetter from the Seventies sitcom The Good Life, Penelope will be at the new World of Poultry exhibition to launch the show just after 9am this morning.

The start today will also see the launch of the 2013/14 Sussex Food and Drink Awards.

Said Carole Hayward, chairman of the South of England Show Committee: “The quality of British husbandry and farming is superb and the South of England Show offers the opportunity for members of the public to come and see first hand the work and dedication of our farmers who continue to prove that ‘British is Best’.”

Every day visitors will be able to see more than 760 examples of beef and dairy cattle, sheep, pigs and goats on display and champions and owners in the livestock parade, which takes place daily in the Ardingly ring.

The South of England Agricultural Society, Spring Garden and Leisure Show

The South of England Agricultural Society, Spring Garden and Leisure Show

Poultry is the Society’s theme for 2013 and Penelope Keith, CBE is a great advocate of growing local and owns her own chickens.

She will be joined by President of the NFU, Peter Kendall, Jane King, editor of Farmers Weekly and Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames.

Carole Hayward said: “The new ‘World of Poultry’ exhibit is a great opportunity to focus on the great breeding and animal care we have in the UK, of which we should be proud, and we are delighted that Fred Hams and Andy Marshall, leading domestic poultry experts, will be with us to share their expertise with poultry enthusiasts and those who are considering keeping chickens for the first time.

“Domestic poultry keeping is increasingly providing the education link in urban communities for people to understand where their food comes from.”

Over 1,500 horses and ponies will take part in the equestrian showcase that forms an enormous part of the three-day extravaganza. Organisers are also delighted that the Shetland Grand National will be at this year’s show; many riders in this popular event have gone on to become successful professional jockeys.

Other aspects of the show include exciting displays such as daredevil stunts from Bolddog Lings Freestyle Motorcycle team, poultry herding in the main arena from Bob Hogg and his sheepdog and various competitions such as horse shoeing, flower arranging and the ever popular Young Craftsman of the Year competition.

Education is echoed throughout the showground and the Knowledge Box is an area for children and young people to learn about the countryside.

They will be able to quiz the experienced stewards on hand as well as take part in various activities including matching sounds of different kinds of fowl (ducks, guinea fowl, geese, pheasants and cockerel).

The show also includes the Food Hall and dozens of retailers, societies, charities and other organisations who will be selling everything under the sun as well as supplying information and help to all comers.

Gates open at 9am and close at 6.30pm daily. There is free parking at the show and a regular bus shuttle service available from Haywards Heath train station to the showground.

For advance ticket discounts and full details visit { ||} or telephone 01444 892700.

See more on the show in a three page special in today’s MID SUSSEX TIMES, on sale at the South of England Show and at all good newsagents.