There has not been a year in Richard Maddocks’ life when he did not attend the Newport Show.
“I remember getting up very early when I was five or six years old, exhibiting the cows, as we have done since 1949,” he said.
“We also had pigs in those days. I have helped out at the show as long as I can remember, from setting up hurdles for races as a boy to organising livestock classes and being a steward in the main ring.”
Now aged 43, Richard is following in the footsteps of his father David and grandfather Wilfred as president of the show.
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And he said that while the event is now much more than just an agricultural show, he hopes that his year in office will help make people give more thought to where their food comes from.
He said shows like that in Newport provide a vital role in highlighting the importance of farming in all our lives.
“There genuinely is something for everyone, regardless of your involvement or knowledge of agriculture, but the show underlines the fundamental role that agriculture plays in the food that ends up on our plates,” he said.
Richard, whose family has been farming at Great Chadwell, near Newport, since 1933, says he is right behind the aims of our Fair Deal For Farmers campaign, which aims to promote the work of local farmers.
We are producing a directory of shops, pubs and restaurants which use produce from local farmers. When we launched the campaign last month we revealed how a single farm supported nearly 2,900 jobs at 39 companies, ranging from tyre fitters to suppliers of specialist animal medicines.
Richard said times are tough at the moment for dairy farmers in particular, and says that successive governments have failed to appreciate the importance of food security.
“It wouldn’t take much to create a serious shortage of something,” he said.
“We grow potatoes, and we saw that at first hand in 2012. We had a lot of rain that year, and there were potato shortages.
“We have now got fewer than 10,000 dairy farmers in the UK, whereas at the turn of the century we had 25,000.”
He is passionate about the importance of children understanding the role that farming plays.
“We have had schoolchildren coming in to visit us, and it is amazing to see the faces of the children – five, six or seven-year-olds – when the cows are being milked, you just have their undivided attention. It’s quite humbling really.
“A few years ago we had a class around when one of the cows gave birth to a little calf, in front of the children and their teachers, and it was unforgettable.”
Richard’s grandfather Wilfred first began farming in 1933, with a single acre of rented land, and one cow. After growing up on the farm, Richard studied at Walford Agricultural College and was named the AMC Student of the Year after completing his National Certificate in Agriculture and Farm Management. Today, the family’s farm covers 1,200 acres, and is a mixture of arable and dairy farming.
“Farming is a way of life,” he says. “I know that sounds like a terrible cliché, but to give you an example we have got a man driving our tractor called Eric Jones, he’s retiring in December at the age of 73, and he has worked for my father and my grandfather for 59 years.
“His brother, Ken, had done 55 years with us when he retired earlier this year.”
He said farming has done a great deal to shape the rural communities around Newport, and supports many other jobs both in the supply and distribution chain.
The show will be held for the 108th time next year, on July 8 at Chetwynd Deer Park. It will be extra special for Richard as it will be the 25th time it has been held at the park, which his father David played a major role in securing for the Newport and District Agricultural Show.
The event will be very much a family affair for Richard, with his wife Jo serving as trophies secretary, and his brother Philip in charge of organising the entertainment. His daughters Pip and Jess also continue the family tradition by showing cattle at the event.
“My aim during my year in office is to spread the word, particularly around Newport and the immediate area, about what a diverse event we have to offer,” said Richard.
This year’s show featured an appearance from Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussani,.
“I am very proud of the show and believe it is a great event for both the agricultural and local community.”
l Tickets for the 108th Newport Show will go on sale later this year.Subscribe to our Newsletter