MORETON Show may be cancelled for this year but the man heading preparations for 2021 has insisted that everything is being done to make sure that one of the country’s biggest one-day agricultural shows will be back.

Moreton Show should be happening on Saturday, September 5, but, like every other major event in this country, it is not being held because of the coronavirus.

Tom Hayman-Joyce, the local estate agent who takes over from Ed Hicks as Moreton Show chairman for the next two years, said: “The decision was made to cancel this year’s show back in June and events have proved us right.

“Hindsight hasn’t changed anything but we are constantly looking at plans for next year’s show and reviewing the latest guidance on what life might look like in 2021.

“I want to make sure that the Moreton in Marsh and District Agricultural and Horse Show Society and the show it organises comes through the current situation and emerges intact because it’s vital on so many levels that this show – like every agricultural event – continues.”

Moreton Show, which celebrated its 70th anniversary last summer, has been taking place on Old Farm, on Lord Dulverton’s Batsford Estate since 1949 and had suffered only three cancellations before Covid-19. Foot-and-Mouth Disease put paid to the show in 1952 and 2001, while a torrential downpour and flooding caused a last-minute stoppage in 2008. This year, the show’s absence has left a massive gap in the social and business diaries of farmers, competitors and traders who look forward to joining the 25,000 visitors who flock to this corner of the north Cotswolds on the first Saturday in September.

For local farmer, Mike Shaw, from Ilmington, near Shipston-on-Stour, it means missing the chance to put some of his finest bulls in the showrings.

Mike said: “Moreton Show is everyone’s shop window and we’ll miss it.. For a lot of people, the show is a social occasion too. It’s where farmers and their families get to meet up and in a business such as farming, that’s a rare treat.

“But Moreton Show will be back – bigger and better than ever, I’m sure. They’re probably going to need bigger marquees to fit everyone in. Farming will survive and we’ve been luckier than so many people throughout this pandemic.”

The Hereford Cattle Society has been holding its National Show for Poll Herefords at Moreton since 1967 and David Deakin, the society secretary, acknowledged that the cancellation was a big blow. “Moreton Show is one of the most important shows for the society in the year,’ he said. ‘It has, probably, the biggest entry of Herefords in Europe and is a very prestigious show for the society.”

Herefordshire-based Richard Bartle has been involved in Limousin cattle since 1980 and he’s been a regular winner at Moreton Show. The farm manager at Kipperknowle Farm, on the Dinmore Manor Estate, Bartle looks after the herd of pedigree Limousins on behalf of Paul Dawes.

He said: “Moreton Show is an especially good show because a lot of farmers get there and it would be unusual for people not to make inquiries. It’s one of the shows where we can see everyone in one place. I think you tend to deal with people you like and the show is where we can make contacts and have a drink and discuss business, face-to-face. There’s no substitute for that.”

Making sure Moreton Show stays around forever is uppermost in the mind of Tom Hayman-Joyce, whose father, James has twice been chairman of the society.

“I’m going to have a free Saturday at the start of September where normally I would be extremely busy,’ he said. ‘I will very much miss the social side of the show, meeting the public, the volunteers and fellow professionals. Many of those I probably only see at the show and this is what makes it such a special occasion. Moreton Show does come across as an event where you see and catch up with people.

“To follow in my father’s footsteps as chairman is a huge honour and, like so many people, I’m optimistic that we will see Moreton Show return next year.”