Thank you to Honor Bank who wrote this report on the Melplash Agricultural Society’s Hedgelaying Contest. Photos by Tim Russ.
Nestled in the valley with far-reaching views over to Golden Cap, The National Trust’s Shedbush Farm, Chideock was this year’s picturesque venue for the Melplash Agricultural Society’s annual hedgelaying match. For the first time in 18 years the hedging and ploughing competitions were in different locations. A tractor and trailer ferried people to and from each site with Beaminster Young Farmers providing a splendid array of refreshments to spectators throughout the day.
27 entrants aged from 14 to 74 took part in the various classes to compete for the title of overall champion. It was good to see some participants in the novice pairs class from the previous week’s training day, as well as some from previous training coming back and doing well.
The hedge was predominantly made up of pretty big stuff, about 20 feet tall hazel in places as well as hawthorn and elder, set on a steep bank with deep ditches both sides which proved a challenge as the rain began to fall at lunchtime and footholds became precarious. The rolling hills of West Dorset suddenly not feeling so charming to the hard working competitors. Each was allotted five hours to complete between 7 and 10 metres of hedge dependent on the class they were in, transforming the landscape with neat, cut and pleached trees and stems into the distinctive low to the bank, 3ft finish of a tightly entwined Dorset style hedge.
Special mention needs to go to the Clayson family of father, daughter and son, having travelled nearly 100 miles to take part and going home with a handful of prizes.
Thank you to the judges; Russell Woodham, Mark Tilley, Peter Yeates and David Pitman, who had a tough job deliberating with such a high standard of hedging on display and trophies being won with only a point between first and second place in many classes.
Rain set in hard at the end of a good day as the prizes were awarded by Melplash Agricultural Society’s Chairman Mr Will Frost.
Novice: 1st Pete Etheridge 2nd Alex Clayson, 3rd Calum Hurley 4th Geoffery Pitt
Novice Pairs: 1st Richard & Katie Clayson, 2nd Mr Arnold & Mathew Arnold 3rd A & S Martin
Intermediate: 1st Roly Boughton, 2nd Rob Wood, 3rd Sam Norman (Young Farmer)
Ladies: 1st Mandy Woodham, 2nd Lydia Lee
Local: 1st Tim Frampton, 2nd Steve Eldridge
Open: 1st Richard Hooker, 2nd Terry Combe 3rd Willow Drew
Open Pairs: 1st Roger Parris & Terry Copp, 2nd Duncan Frazer & Malcolm Dowling 3rd Heath & Lynda Cregan,
Best Young Farmer: Sam Norman
Cleanest Cut: Alex Clayson
Cleanest Site: Rob Wood
Overall Champion: Richard Hooker