The Chairman and the Horticulturalist
This being it’s 99th year, the New Forest & Hampshire Agricultural Show Society welcomes a new Chairman, Martin Stewart, to its historic and prestigious ranks, a tenure that he will hold for five years.
Martin says, “It is an absolute honour to be asked to follow Chris Whitlock in the chair”.
He did a fantastic job steering the Society through changing times. The role has many responsibilities but together with the Board, Chief Executive Denis Dooley, the full time office staff our incredible showground team and almost 500 voluntary stewards, the role of Chairman is relatively easy due to such a great system.”
For the remaining 362 days of the year, the team work tirelessly in planning, organising and creating a show which just gets more exciting and entertaining every year. The Society not only stages the show but also other events during the year as well as managing the Long Meadow Campsite which welcomes tents, camper vans and mobile homes and is nestled in the very heart of the forest, with exemplary facilities.
Members of the Show’s board meet monthly to discuss all of the issues and proposals that arise. As Chairman, Martin’s role will be to guide the discussions towards workable solutions.
As well as his role of Chairman this year, Martin’s horticultural business, Stewarts will once again be one of the Show’s sponsors. Charles Stewart, Martin’s great, great, great grandfather founded the company in the 18th century and Stewarts now have three garden centres in the South. Stewarts have exhibited a Show garden at the show for over twenty years and as Martin says, “I think it’s fair to say that we have grown to love the New Forest Show – it is truly unique, I think we are addicted to it ! “
The Stewarts garden is designed over the winter and its construction begins, on site, as early as April. It is a huge amount of hard work as everything is sown or planted in situ and each year the garden is a mass of colour with the space crammed with exquisite flowers all masterfully timed to be in bloom for the duration of the show.
When asked why Martin is so involved in the show, he replies “Personally, I love what it stands for – to me it promotes “the truth”; the outdoors, the land, physical activity and social interaction. I enjoy the earthy aspects of the Show – the cattle, the sheep, old time farming and the Heart of the Forest area, all of which represent the workings of the forest. The Countryside Area has more education opportunities per square metre that you can find in most other days out.”
Perhaps not many visitors to the show are aware that the Society is a charity and Martin explains that the charitable mission is “Education, education, education. We are here to educate the young and the old in all aspects of life in the Forest, in agriculture and the environment. What can be more important and valuable than that.”