I had done Tatton before, but previously not with the National Vegetable Society, and had been part of a medal winning team. Then we gave it a miss for the a year or so, and I thought that the opportunity had slipped me by. But this year, 2016, I had a late call, the NVS Manchester and Cheshire Branch wanted extra volunteers, specifically to man the stall, and I was recommended. It was too late for me to grow anything for the stand, though I grew for my previous entry, but what the society wanted was someone who could talk to the public; so I got a recommendation, which I eagerly accepted.
To be invited as a very minor member of a prize winning team was quite appealing to me. The man in charge,John, is over 80 and has won sixteen gold medals on the run. His first medal was silver, but he said never again! So ever afterwards he has driven for gold and succeeded.
Working on a horticultural show is a team effort. John now directs operations, but is still game enough to get up to the top of the stand to effect repairs: not bad for a man in his eighties.But we also have a very competent lady who organizes and plans the display She is John's assistant, but if you look at the picture below you can see the work that she has done in making the display perfect enough for us to win our sixteenth gold medal.Sadly, she was not present when I worked on the stall, as she needed a day off. But there is a large team of us, each of whom plays a part. There is a team of growers selected for the quality of the plants that they grow, and they come from across Greater Manchester and Cheshire
As I said, I was brought in to speak the public, because, to use an old English phrase,I can talk the hind leg off a donkey. But I wanted to do more than that, so I came along for one of the build up days. Readers must realize that much preparation goes into building a display. Firstly the stand has to be constructed, and then the plants collected from the growers and brought together. They also need to be arranged. But to win gold you have to get the display perfect. I just do as I am told when that is happening, as I know that my visual aesthetic skills are not as good as those of others, so I did general work on construction, which consisted of acting as an assistant as other got the aesthetics right, ensuring that all unsightly wood was covered and that the equipment was clean. I was not chosen for break down days, which come next week.
I don't know, but the show is 19-23 July. I don't think I will get the first day, for that is for the RHS members,such as I, who don't need much advice. As my job is to deal with the public I imagine my days will be any one or more of the other four. I will not be on all of them, as others team members have a right to a share of the limited tickets.
What date are you going there ? Can I come and heckle ?
Some good news. I have been invited to do the Tatton Show again, with exactly the same job, speaking to the general public about our display and horticulture in general. Expect an article on this later in the year.
WOW I love how cool this experience was for you and YES it is an amazing experience. I adore plants and this is a very informative article.
Very interesting, and nice, too. Thank you, Frank!
The gold medal is a paper image of a medal, and this is so with all flower shows, as the value lies not in the gold of the medal, but the achievement. It does not give any special access to other fairs. The medal system is not a ranking, though there is the rank of Best in Show. The medal classification is awarded on how far the standard is met, so there can be several gold medals per show. The medal classification in descending order is: gold, silver gilt, silver, bronze. Some events use an alternative system of commended, highly commended. Last time when I competed [as part of a very large team] my part of the team won a highly commended, and the overall entry from Trafford and Manchester Allotments, to which we belonged, won Best in Show.
All team members will get a copy of the gold medal, but that is up to the team to arrange.
Is the gold medal also a monetary prize, or does it involve access to other fairs, for instance?
Just over three years
Aged 62 ? That must have been a long, long time ago Frank.
I also have forgotten the decline in agility too often. Aged sixty two, I tried to see if I was still capable of vaulting a metal fence. I wasn't, I got hurt, and I had a very annoyed wife and daughter who demanded that I acknowledge the limitations of my age.