HRH The Prince of Wales Visit
Welcoming HRH The Prince of Wales to Lane Farm was indeed a huge honour for Westmorland County Agricultural Society, our Members and volunteers. A truly historic occasion.
The visit focussed on the Society’s wide-ranging educational, “out-of-show” activities and it was a pleasure to showcase what we do as a 365-day agricultural society.
Hosted by Chairman David Galbraith, Prince Charles first toured the Farm to Fork Roadshow being greeted by Mary, David and Carol’s Ayrshire cow, a regular and very popular attendee at our educational events. Chicks, egg grader and sheep followed before His Royal Highness was introduced to the wooden jig animals, designed and made by Paul Duckett. He also studied the displays of our Farm Open Days and Society information. Throughout the marquee each station was manned by the volunteers who usually help at the Roadshows, along with children from Levens School who were taking the opportunity for lots of hands-on experiences. Prince Charles talked with most of the volunteers, many of whom commented about his vast knowledge of agriculture and the countryside. He also strongly supported our work in reconnecting food and farming.
The Society’s silage competition was of great interest to the Prince, particularly when it was explained how this had encouraged farmers to analyse and improve their fodder. The Society’s link with Newton Rigg’s agricultural apprenticeship programme was introduced followed by the vocational training programme which delivered almost 1,000 training days to 568 beneficiaries during the 2-year Rural Skills initiative alone.
As Patron of the Dry Stone Walling Association, His Royal Highness met with officers and visited the exhibition walling panels where young apprentices gave a demonstration of the traditional craft. Representatives from Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN), a community initiative originating in Lancashire, demonstrated how their volunteers are bringing super-fast broadband to rural villages and remote farms and invited the Prince to make their 1,000th connection. Inspector Latham and the Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) based at Lane Farm explained their valuable work within the Cumbrian community regarding rural crime.
The visit then moved to the Westmorland Room where His Royal Highness chatted with many Society stalwarts and guests. Unveiling a plaque in honour of his visit the Prince said "I can't tell you what a joy it is to see you all in Westmorland for a moment or two and to hear all about the marvellous things the Society does - and thank you for laying on such a wonderfully cold day! I am so proud of being the patron of the Dry Stone Walling association even though I did it once and found it an impossible jigsaw puzzle. It is so important to maintain these great rural traditions, particularly in terms of the stone walls which are a magnificent feature of our landscape."
In appreciation of his visit, Stephen Procter presented a hamper of Westmorland produce to the Prince which had been donated by local producers. In closing, the Chairman thanked Prince Charles for his presence and offered an invitation to return in the future for the County Show. You never know, one day …
Wednesday 1st April 2015 was most certainly a memorable day for Westmorland County Agricultural Society and one most of us will never forget.