A DAY spent at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate last week was thoroughly enjoyable.

Perfect weather – sunshine but not too hot for livestock – and a near record crowd provided a valuable opportunity to meet anybody who’s anybody in the rural community.

The show was superbly organised and congratulations to Charles Mills for pulling off a cracker of an eventfor his debut as honorary show director, ably supported by Yorkshire Agricultural Society chief executive Nigel Pulling and his team. It is a source of great pride that Yorkshire hosts England’s, and arguably the UK’s biggest and best agricultural show.

I found plenty of examples at the show of how Britain’s rural community is forward thinking, entrepreneurial and adaptable – like the robotic milking display which ran 24/7 throughout the three days milking a herd of 40 cows when they wanted to be milked but completely automatically.

On the Welcome to Yorkshire stand the inextricable link between farming and the landscape which people come from all over the world to enjoy was plain to see.

Nosterfield sheep farmer Ernie Sherwin, whose handsome Wensleydale Longwool sheep picked up a raft of prizes and championships at the show, brought two of his Wensleydales to the stand to be sheared with amazing speed and skill by the Yorkshire champion sheep shearer Antony Rooke.

Crowds flocked (no pun intended!) to see the shearing demonstration, as they did to see the lovely pictures of the Yorkshire countryside by Brompton-on-Swale-based artist Lucy Pittaway who also had a presence on the WTY stand.

It underlined just how much people love our countryside.

And of course, that countryside is only lovely because British farmers keep it that way.

Farmers such as Ernie and 19-year-old William Barker of Tancred Grange, Scorton, whose Limousin bull took championship honours and looked absolutely beautiful when I toured the cattle lines.

It helps enormously when farmers seek innovative ways to grow their business. Like the Kettlewell family of Raydale in the Yorkshire Dales. I met Andrew Kettlewell in the show’s impressive new £11.5m exhibition hall. He was selling Raydale Preserves’ amazing range of jams, curds, marmalades, mustards and chutneys.

The Kettlewells’ farm at Stalling Busk diversified into making preserves in one of the farm’s stone barns back in 1978. The business has grown ever since and further expansion plans are in the pipeline.

I also spent some time talking to representatives at the Farming Community Network’s stand. We discussed how this splendid organisation helps farmers who fall on hard times, providing a confidential national helpline and a team of volunteer advisers offering practical and pastoral support.

The FCN, with the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, offers a vital safety net for farmers and I fully support their work.

Finally, it was great to see The Bull at West Tanfield voted Yorkshire’s favourite pub at the show – a reminder of how important tourism is to local economy as well as farming.