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Joy at setting for bumper Shrewsbury Flower Show

By Lucy Todman | Shrewsbury | Features | Published:

Once again crowds descended on Shrewsbury's Quarry to enjoy the annual Flower Show two-day spectacle.

Brian Harper from the town

Queues formed at the box office before the gates opened for day one as ticket holders made their way along the park's paths taking in all the show had to offer.

Marquees were packed to bursting with flowers and plants of every variety and exhibitors had travelled from all over the country to take part.

Despite the forecasted rain showers, it failed to dampen the spirits of those attending today.

Over the past two weeks, workmen have been busy putting up the Quarry, Severn and Dingle marquees while this week, final touches were being made to the 12 show gardens.

One of those keeping a close eye on preparations was committee member Major Brian Harper.

He has been a fixture of the Shrewsbury Flower Show for more than 25 years and has been looking forward to a bumper show.

Over the years he has seen things come and go but the 83-year-old is confident that there will be something to please everyone this year.

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He has been working hard behind the scenes this week to ensure that the event goes without a hitch.

Brian Harper

Whilst highlights for him in year's gone by were the Navy Gun Race, the Household Cavalry and the Royal Horse Artillery, he has spent many an hour this year taking in the scents and smells of the floral marquees.

"It is a big thing to put this show on each year but we must be doing something right as people keep coming back," he said.

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"It has always been known as one of the best shows in the country. We are still very popular with growers and lots and lots of traders and catering stands attend. We are still getting the big names in.

"I think that what makes the show so special is its setting. You get other gardening shows elsewhere which do not have the beautiful surroundings that we do and that makes us very unique."

Major Harper was an officer at the barracks and spent 47 years in the medical corps based around the world. He and his wife moved to Shrewsbury from Hong Kong and it is here they made their home for their young family. Now a proud grandfather, he has continued with his links to the show and finds the camaraderie and inclusiveness a great comfort.

He enjoys his time with the show and was sub committee chairman for more than 16 years and then worked as a publicity officer. "I am a man of many trades and I plan to carry on working here for as long as I can. I also volunteer at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital in Gobowen.

Brian Harper

"This all keeps me fit and active. It keeps the old grey matter healthy," he added.

For showgoers there was plenty to keep them busy too. In the food hall celebrity chef John Torode, best known as the straight talking co-host and judge of Masterchef, was busy telling his secrets of the trade while whipping up a couple of taste-bud tickling dishes.

David Domoney, presenter from ITV's Love Your Garden, was also giving out tips in the lecture marquee. The decorated garden designer was making his first appearance at the show although he is a regular demonstrator at similar events all over the country.

Out in the arena, the horses took to the turf for the Brewin Dolphin Challenge Sakes Showjumping competition.

There was then a spot of duck herding before the Perry Riding for the Disabled Vaulting Team put on a display. Gary Mullen and The Works Queen tribute band put on a musical performance belting out some of the group's greatest hits and the day rounded off with a Massed Band Finale and fireworks display. The show closed with a lone piper.

Brian Harper

The Quarry Marquee is home to the professional horticulturalists and spectacular displays of plants and flowers are created by leading growers, national collection holders and nurseries from all over Britain.

Budding gardeners can get valuable growing advice on their chosen plants and take a glance at some of the most stunning displays on offer.

They were also able to cast their votes in the People's Choice Award for an outstanding display which has returned this year. The polls close at 12pm today (SAT) and the winner will be announced by David Domoney at 3.30pm.

The Severn Marquee was the home of the amateur growers, societies and groups including those from the Shropshire Beekeepers' Association and as in previous years, the National Begonia Society was hosting its annual championships at the show.

In the Dingle Marquee, amateur individual or group florists were showing off their creations. With themes ranging from My Summer Holiday for children aged eight and under to Sailing Away, Neptune's Bounty and Vintage White Wedding for older entrants, the creations burst with colour and imagination.

Music was provided by the RAF Halton Area Voluntary Band and RAF Cosford Voluntary Band who played together conducted by Patrick Ryan. The Lancashire Artillery Volunteers Band and the Band of the Royal regiment of Fusiliers also took to the bandstand to delight the crowds. The Shrewsbury Male Voice Choir were also in fine form as were Of One Accord.

Showgoers were welcomed in to the Quarry by the Cherry Ripe Steel Band which played tropical music to lift the spirits.

Lucy Todman

By Lucy Todman
@shroptod

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star and Shrewsbury Chronicle based in Shrewsbury.

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