Old hands help to keep shows going

Tommy Swan, a stalwart of Warkworth Show.
Tommy Swan, a stalwart of Warkworth Show.

The efforts of those who exhibit at our shows, be it industrial or horticultural, are key to success.

When the entry envelope is opened, anything in excess of 10 inspires elation. One top exhibitor not turning up is bad news for organisers. Each show relies on at least one main vegetable and flower grower. If there are two or three, better still.

Some exhibitors specialise in roses, dahlias, gladioli or sweet peas, while others grow a little of everything.

John Percival has made roses his forte, exhibiting successfully nationwide, but still turning up every year to support his village show at Warkworth.

The recent event was no exception, where a stunning bowl caught the eye. It comprised four blooms of Selfridges, two Silver Anniversary, two Red Devil, two Summer Kiss, two Gemini and Isn’t She Lovely. Such exhibits stand out a mile.

Tommy Swan, of Wooler, is a name familiar to many in show circles across the region. A long-standing exhibitor and judge, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside this likeable gentleman at Warkworth and Glendale for several years and respect his sense of judgement

Most enjoyable has been his treasure trove of anecdotes. The safe transporting of entries to shows has never been easy, but he was doing this decades ago, competing on the Scottish border, Tyneside and beyond.

Now a nonagenarian, Tommy has decided to stand down from judging, and his presence will be missed, but I cannot see him giving up exhibiting. It’s in his blood.

Our mutual friend Jimmy Givens, who is a youngster by comparison, has talked of giving up exhibiting in recent years, but still comes back all guns blazing, picking up trophies.

Our shows need both young and old to keep them going, so in wishing friend Tommy well, I hope he, too, has a Frank Sinatra moment before next year’s show.