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Harvest Service 2006 Report

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Peter Ryder
01473 251991
Peter Ryder

An all-time record attendance of 143 members and guests enjoyed the Guild's Harvest Lunch at a new venue, the Thistle Charing Cross Hotel, London, following the traditional Harvest Service at St Bride's Church, Fleet Street.

Members were in fine voice for the hymns at the service, which was organised by Guild Secretary Don Gomery, generously sponsored by Guild member Howard Venters of Shepherd Publishing and included an address given by The Rev Dr Gordon Gatward.

As usual, the bulk of the harvest produce on display, and sold after the service on behalf of the Guild's Charitable Trust, was provided by the Kelsey family from their farm in north Kent, with a basket of produce again donated by The Farmers Club.

EBLEX (English Beef & Lamb Executive), the body that aims to maintain a competitive beef and lamb industry in England through technology transfer and quality assurance, sponsored the lunch and provided the excellent meat for the occasion – prime English beef and lamb, needless to say! Chief Executive Richard Ali gave a brief description of the work of EBLEX.

Guest speaker, NFU President Peter Kendall, welcomed the recent increases in prices for cereals, oilseeds, beef, pork and poultry, which, he said, were long overdue and a price worth paying "for a better managed countryside and a healthier rural economy".

"Persistently low farmgate prices for food have been bad news for farmers, bad for the countryside, bad for animal welfare, bad for employment and bad for the developing world," he added. "But the fact that the balance does seem to be shifting back just a little in favour of the food producer can only be good, provided it is sustained. That is a priority that I can see coming more and more to the fore in the national consciousness over the years ahead."

Yara marketing manager and Guild member Rosie Carne officiated for the announcement of the Yara-sponsored Journalist Awards (see News and Awards pages), which were presented by Yara UK’s new managing director Tove Andersen.

The Guild's Charitable Trust chairman Arthur Anderson handled two fund-raising initiatives, both of which were supported with great enthusiasm by members and raised more than £2100 for the Trust, which helps and supports members who fall on hard times.

The most eagerly-sought prize was a pair of Centre Court tickets for next year’s Wimbledon tennis championships, plus lunch in the members’ restaurant. Donated personally by Grieve Carson, secretary of the Farmers Club, honorary Guild member and a trustee of the Charitable Trust, they were auctioned to South Yorkshire farmer Jill Willows for £800.

Raffle tickets distributed to all members before the event, as well as those sold at the lunch, raised a record £1222 and a further £90 was raised from the sale of produce displayed at the Harvest Service.

Member responses to the event suggest the new venue for this long-standing Guild event was a great success. Comments to the secretary included: "a much warmer and more friendly atmosphere... greater ambience... more welcoming... less crowded... better, by far, all round".

Guild members prepare to tuck-in to prime English beef and lamb supplied by EBLEX in the grand surroundings of the Thistle Charing Cross Hotel.

Richard Ali, chief executive of main sponsor EBLEX, gave a brief description of the work of the organisation.

Guest speaker, NFU President Peter Kendall, said higher prices for farm produce are worth paying for a better managed countryside and a healthier rural economy.

Guild chairman 2005-06, Roger Abbott, responds to Peter Kendall's comments.

Charitable Trust chairman, Arthur Anderson, drives up the price of two Wimbledon centre court tickets in an auction that added £800 to the Trust's funds.

John Eveson (above) and Andrew Blake (below received their IFAJ Photography and Star Award trophies from Guild President Baroness Hazel Byford – see IFAJ awards page for details.

Yara guests, judges and award winners relax among the debris of a very satisfying and enjoyable Harvest Lunch!

Photographs by John Eveson

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