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Supreme beef goes to local beast at Bath and West

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 29, 2014

Millie Hendy winning the Shorthorn junior bull class with Meonside Gladstone at the Royal Bath and West Show PICTURE: Fran Stothard

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The livestock comes from far and wide but it was a South Devon Bull from just up the road at Mells that took the supreme beef championship at the opening day of the Royal Bath and West Show.

Mells Park Bertie, exhibited by John Ward, of Stone Ash Farm, and bred by the Mells Park Trust was the beast. He celebrates his fifth birthday on Friday.

A British Charolais took the Reserve championship. Two-year-old Babithan Hersieys, who was shown by Jane Haw, for Mr and Mrs A White of Worth Matravers near Swanage was the champion beast at last week's Devon County Show, and will travel down to the Royal Cornwall Show next week in search of more honours.

From mighty bulls to towering shire horses there are plenty of heavyweights on view but it was a tiny hatchling that captured the heart of the Duchess of Cornwall.

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The show's president stopped to watch the little chick struggle out of its shell on the Farming and the Family stand during a tour of the show which lasted nearly five hours. Moments later she cupped another hatchling in her hands.

Her delight was a demonstration of why the stand is one of the most popular at the show, engaging entire families, and showing any town children who don't know just where chickens come from.

A light drizzle failed to dampen spirits. The Duchess dressed for the weather in cream mackintosh and brown leather boots, as she toured the stands, spending much time talking with children, from the finalists in the environmental youth awards to the groups in the village school on the Village Green. The winners, Dilton Marsh primary school, from Wiltshire were thrilled to meet the Duchess. Sophia Cooper, Erin Wilkins, Tom Murray and Caroline and Oliver South chatted enthusiastically with the Duchess about their continuing work to attract wildlife, be sustainable and run a kitchen garden.

As she toured the village green she chatted with sportsmen and women who take part daily in the Bath and West Disabled Games.

The show is a giant shop window for food producers, and the Duchess could not resist the macaroons on the stand of Cheltenham-based Dimkin, selecting a salted caramel delight to take away with her. Ellen Kingston of Dorset-based Denhay presented some of the firm's Spoilt Pig dry-cured bacon, in a special 'Spoilt Pig' bag.

In the cheese pavilion there was more chance to savour two of the exhibits, Daylesford Double Gloucester, Lubborn Cheese's Somerset Brie and Keen's Cheddar, one of only three firms in the South West making Cheddar with raw milk. George Keen is a fifth-generation cheese-maker, and his son is following in his footsteps.

West Country cheese is a growing success story. The Duchess presented a cheese industry award – an engraved glass bowl, to Win Merrells, former food product developer with Marks and Spencer, who is now with Sainsbury, revamping its cheese offering. The former Royal Bath and West judge has 35 years' experience in the cheese industry and said: "The show today is amazing. It has developed so much. There is a far wider range of cheeses on show here today."

The Duchess was keen to learn at every stand, but at the Young Farmers stand she was happy simply to observe the ease with which Wendy Welland was spinning wool. Wendy, from Burnham-on-Sea, a vice president of Somerset Young Farmers, learned to spin during a farm exchange to Australia in Australia in the 1970s.

One Young Farmer was unrecognisable. Lucy Pulsford of Kings Brompton was dressed up in a fluffy cow costume, offering free hugs and selfies.

The Environment Agency-led dredging to prevent a repeat of this winter's floods was among the hot topics at the show.

Locals say the work by private contractors Land and Water to dredge a total of eight kilometres of the rivers Tone and Parrett has fallen behind schedule and fear it will not be complete by its target date of the end of October.

Farmer James Winslade, one of those badly affected by the floods said: "It's so wrapped in red tape. They are doubling up on health and safety. Land and Water have their own health and safety plans, but the Environment Agency is doubling up."

Today's main ring attractions include the thrills of the Squibb Freestyle Motocross Show, the Devils' Horsemen, Avon and Somerset Police Dog Section and Pony Club Games. The Dairy champion will be judged, and champion livestock will also parade.

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