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‘Missing you’: video marks loss of 2020 Suffolk Show

PUBLISHED: 01:03 27 May 2020

Bruce Kerr, Suffolk Show Director with Her Majesty The Queen's Suffolk Punch, Whitton Poppy at Easton Farm Park Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Bruce Kerr, Suffolk Show Director with Her Majesty The Queen's Suffolk Punch, Whitton Poppy at Easton Farm Park Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

The loss of the Suffolk Show is set to leave a giant hole in the county’s heart - and its finances.

Suffolk Show's committee of senior stewards meeting via Zoom in run-up to what should have been the 2020 show  Picture: ZOOM/SAASuffolk Show's committee of senior stewards meeting via Zoom in run-up to what should have been the 2020 show Picture: ZOOM/SAA

Organisers of the county’s biggest annual showcase - due to take place on May 27 and 28 - have launched a poignant “missing you” video to mark the two days when the event would have taken place.

The Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA) – the farmer charity which organises the event – has lost hundreds of thousands of pounds from its inevitable cancellation due to the coronavirus crisis.

MORE – Suffolk Show cancelled ‘with great sadness’ due to coronavirus

And the county will have lost out to the tune of somewhere in the region of £27m to £30m – its estimated annual worth to the economy.

This year’s event would have welcomed 800 tradestands and had 80 sponsors lined up. Around 30 charities would have taken part.

Fiona Siddall and Bruce Kerr with Easton  Farm Park's Suffolk Punches Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNFiona Siddall and Bruce Kerr with Easton Farm Park's Suffolk Punches Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Show organisers say it’s too early to say exactly how much the cancellation has cost them, but it is in the hundreds of thousands of pounds. They have pledged to pay back all those who have put deposits down or paid for tickets. However, a number of creditors have asked them to keep the money until next year.

Woodbridge farmer and show director Bruce Kerr – for whom 2020 was meant to be the first of three years at the helm of a team of 300 farmer volunteers – is disappointed but philosophical.

With temperatures predicted at around 19C with barely any wind, show conditions would have been perfect this year – meaning a bumper turnout.

“It’s just very sad, but very understandable under the circumstances, so we are where we are,” said Bruce, who held show committee meetings via Zoom with senior stewards in the run-up to the two days.

Suffolk Show Director , Bruce Kerr Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSuffolk Show Director , Bruce Kerr Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“It wasn’t a difficult decision,” he said, but added: “The consequences of that decision have involved just as much if not more work for the staff in unravelling the show as running the show.”

The show is aimed at bringing the Suffolk and wider community closer to its food and farming roots. The industry remains a major player in the Suffolk economy. At last official count, the county contained 2,666 farm holdings, with a total workforce of more than 8,000 farming 292,000ha.

“Agriculture is one of the biggest employers in East Anglia, let alone Suffolk,” said Bruce. With many staff at Ipswich’s Trinity Park – where the Suffolk Show is held – on furlough due to the coronavirus crisis, the remainder of the “absolutely amazing” team has still been working hard to liaise with show stakeholders, he said.

Many things are still up in the air, said Bruce. “We touched on planning for 2021 for the next show and really listed a lot of things we don’t know the answer to,” he said. “We are refunding everybody and we are really grateful there’s a number of people who have left money with us for the next show.”

Piglets at Easton Farm Park that would have been going to their first Suffolk Show Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNPiglets at Easton Farm Park that would have been going to their first Suffolk Show Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

As well as a large vegetable and cereal operation, the Kerr family also runs a popular farm attraction – Easton Farm Park – which is currently under lockdown and hoping to reopen in July.

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) East Anglia regional director Rachel Carrington said the loss of this year’s event was “hugely disappointing”.

“Suffolk Show is a fantastic shop window for the county’s food and farming,” she said. “It’s an event that brings rural communities together, showcases East Anglia’s agricultural sector to a wider audience and makes a significant contribution to the rural economy.”

In recent years only two shows have had to close. The 2001 show was called off because of a major UK foot-and-mouth outbreak. The 2012 one was curtailed by a day due to high winds.


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