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Suffolk to stage ‘drive-in’ harvest festival service

PUBLISHED: 15:21 10 September 2020 | UPDATED: 15:56 10 September 2020

Bishop of Dunwich Mike Harrison and Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, Martin Seeley.

Bishop of Dunwich Mike Harrison and Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, Martin Seeley.

© Keith Mindham Photography

Suffolk’s showpiece harvest festival celebration is set to move from the grandeur of St Edmundsbury Cathedral to the outdoor home of the Suffolk Show this year.

The Suffolk 'trinity' of a Suffolk Punch horse, Red Poll bull and Suffolk Sheep standing guard at the gates of Trinity Park in Ipswich  Picture: SAAThe Suffolk 'trinity' of a Suffolk Punch horse, Red Poll bull and Suffolk Sheep standing guard at the gates of Trinity Park in Ipswich Picture: SAA

With problems hosting the service in a confined space due to the coronavirus crisis, it will be brought instead to a farmers’ field with a “drive-in” service on the Trinity Park showground in Ipswich.

Suffolk Young Farmers is organising the “track-and-trace” event, which will be by invitation-only and limited to 200 people due to restrictions. Service-goers will remain in their vehicles, which will be arranged in a graduated semi-circles with an ‘aisle’ down the centre.

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Suffolk Young Farmers co-ordinator Jenny Maskell – who has been planning the event with Lightwave Rural Chaplain Graham Miles – said she had been “astounded” by the help and support they had received, which had been “unbelievable”.

Thsi year's Suffolk Show was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic  Picture: LUCY TAYLORThsi year's Suffolk Show was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

“I feel it is more important than ever this year to do something and came up with the idea of a drive through harvest festival,” she said.

Among the clergy in attendance will be Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Martin Seeley and Dean of St Edmundsbury Joe Hawes. A socially-distanced band will replace the choir.

There will be the usual collection of food and cash to help food banks across Suffolk, with gifts being presented to the altar on a tractor and trailer. A combine harvester is set to provide a pulpit. It is hoped to continue the agricultural theme with a plough, a drill and an assortment of tractors.

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Along with host the Suffolk Agricultural Association, the National Farmers’ Union has also offered its support for the service, which takes place on Sunday, October 4, with gates opening from 1pm.

“Local farmers and business are supporting us with either donations to cover the costs involved, machinery and equipment or doing whatever they can to help,” said Jenny.

David Nunn, chairman of the Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA), said they were looking forward to welcoming worshippers to the event.

“The SAA at Trinity Park is delighted to be the venue for this innovative idea from our young farmers who always inspire us with their creative ideas and willingness to give their time for good causes,” he said.

Sally Gaze, Archdeacon for Rural Mission for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said: “It is so exciting to be able to work with Young Farmers Club on creating a drive in harvest festival at the showground ”

Suffolk National Farmers’ Union county adviser Charles Hesketh said the NFU fully supported Suffolk Young Farmers in marking the harvest celebrations in an innovative way.

“We look forward to being able to join Suffolk Young Farmers and see the community come together on the day during what is such a difficult time for many.”

If you are interested in attending the event, email Jenny Maskell, who will be holding any spare tickets, at office@suffolkyfc.com.


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