2019 Royal Cheshire County Show - photo special
- Credit: Pics; John Cocks
This year’s Royal Cheshire Show was another huge success but it will be the final one for Chairman Emeritus, Tony Garnett, as the great and the good of Cheshire’s agricultural community gathered to honour his eleven years at the helm
Legend has it that the sun always shines on the Royal Cheshire Show. That was looking decidedly unlikely this year as the rains poured in the days and weeks before and major events from around the county were postponed or cancelled. Yet with just 48 hours to go the skies began to clear, the ground dried just enough to ensure it didn't descend into a mud bath and on the day itself the sun even dared to peek from behind the clouds now and again. Yes, the fantastically rousing Scots Guard Association Pipe Band may have had to reroute their performance a little after one of the Monster Trucks got temporarily stuck in the Main Ring before being pulled out, pulling up a good patch of ground in the process but, hey ho, hardly a disaster.
In the heart of the show, at the President's lunch, a rather more metaphorical sun was setting as the show's VIPs and leading members of its agricultural community gathered over a lunch of herb-crusted spring lamb followed by a fresh berry roulade - and it has to be said, a good deal of champagne - to toast the star of this year's show, Tony Garnett DL ARAgS.
Tony a dairy farmer who owns Clay Bank Farm near Allostock has been involved with the show for more than 30 years, became Vice Chair 14 years ago and took up the role of Chairman three years later. He officially stepped down earlier this year but retained the title of Chairman Emeritus in order to oversee his final show.
'It's been a huge honour to be chairman and I've been very proud to serve,' he says as we catch up after the lunch. 'No one person can do everything for a show of this kind. I've had a lot of help from my family, particularly my wife Pamela.'
He reflects on the history of the show. 'Really it started 180 years ago with the formation of the Cheshire Agricultural Society. It started as an education on farming, giving an insight how best to do things from growing crops to making cheese. And it was an insight for the general public into how farms work.'
Both Tony and Pamela were passionate about maintaining the agricultural heart of the show and not going down a more populist, watered-down path. 'It's an agricultural show our visitors come to see agriculture. We maintained that side of the show and it's proven to be a huge success. I'm really pleased with the way that has gone,' he says.
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One of his proudest moments was achieving 'Royal' status in 2016. 'It's a fantastic recognition of all the efforts that go into the show,' he says. 'People undoubtedly come from hours away and we're recognised as one of the best county shows in the country.'
In honour of his work he was awarded the title of Honorary Life Warden. 'It's an honour that comes from other members of the society. They decide if you should have it so it was a very proud moment.'
He says it was the highlight of this year for him. But then he corrects himself. 'The highlight of every year is walking through the ground on the first morning of the show and, after all the stress and the hard work of the weeks before, seeing everyone enjoying themselves. We've worked hard to make this a very friendly show and all we really want is for it to be a very happy occasion.'