Shrewsbury Flower Show

PUBLISHED: 13:24 16 September 2010 | UPDATED: 17:50 20 February 2013

Aubrey Kirkham, Ann Kirkham, who got the president's unofficial award of best-dressed lady, Suzanne Wilson and Harry Wilson

Aubrey Kirkham, Ann Kirkham, who got the president's unofficial award of best-dressed lady, Suzanne Wilson and Harry Wilson

Shropshire Horticultural Society president Howard Franklin tells the whirlwind story of the wet but wonderful 2010 Shrewsbury Flower Show. Pictures by John Snowdon

The show that rains supreme

Shropshire Horticultural Society president Howard Franklin tells the whirlwind story of the wet but wonderful 2010 Shrewsbury Flower Show
Pictures by John Snowdon

I was greatly honoured to be elected by the membership of Shropshire Horticultural Society to be their president for the 123rd Shrewsbury Flower Show and invited my friend of 33 years, Anna Sutton, the Executive Dean of Education from Chester University, to be my consort.

My duties began in February at the annual general meeting, and I have been attending the general committee meetings, chaired by Lieutenant Colonel Mike Carver since then. I must place on record my admiration to this committee for its enthusiastic participation and many hours of unpaid work which largely contribute to the success of the show.

The weather pundits had predicted two fine and sunny days, so naturally the heavens opened and the weather was more like April than mid August. According to Helen Chivers from the Met Office it was all due to the jet-stream pushing bands of low pressure over much of Great Britain, especially The Quarry in Shrewsbury! However, it takes more than a few heavy rain storms to deter the loyal supporters of the show and the crowds turned out in their thousands.

This years show proper began for me on Thursday lunchtime as the honoured guest of Shropshire Womens Institutes at their luncheon in St Chads Hall, where I was warmly welcomed by the delightful Hazel Loftus, show committee chairman. What a happy gathering and a really delicious meal, prepared by a small team of rather expert WI ladies who know the direct way to a mans heart is through an extra portion of a very sinful pudding!

Afterwards I went to the showground to view the WI exhibits in seven different classes on the theme On With The Show. I especially liked the classes Theatre First Night, a fresh flower corsage and a handmade evening bag and Interval, two items of cookery and one wine or cordial. There were some first rate exhibits in what was an outstanding overall display.

Later Mike Carver took us on a full tour of the showground, including the Quarry, Severn and Dingle marquees where we were able to meet the exhibitors while they were still staging their various exhibits. Having been an exhibitor myself in the past I know just how detailed everything has to be to be worthy of an award. We marvelled at the inventive ideas in floral art, and horticultural excellence of vegetables, fruit, cut flowers, plants, trees and shrubs, cacti and succulents. The words which spring readily to mind are perfection and dedication; we were having a private view of some really outstanding exhibits.

That evening we attended the exhibitors dinner, a very friendly and informal event and I was able to chat with many exhibitors and to thank them for supporting the show and to get their opinions on the facilities we offer. I was delighted so many exhibitors from far away told me how they appreciated the friendliness of Shrewsbury Flower Show. I like to think we are a welcoming society.

We then went to Shrewsbury Public School for the Flower Show reunion dinner of The Freemen of Shrewsbury and the Shropshire Society in London, and so to bed at midnight.

First morning of the show dawned looking rather drear and with leaden skies. Anna, undaunted, dressed in ivory silk coat with a powder blue figured dress and huge tonal blue hat looked stunning and I could see my face in my highly polished Oxford shoes! Meeting and greeting the High Sheriff of Shropshire, Hugh Trevor-Jones and his lovely wife, Carolyn, we were joined by Lt. Col. and Mrs Carver, and Mr and Mrs Brian Goodwin, for a tour of the floral marquees, meeting Major S Steadman and Mrs B Cooper in their respective marquees. I presented the Best in Show Trophy, the Edith Aveling Cup to Chrysanthemums Direct for an outstanding display.

At 11.20am The Mayor of Shrewsbury, Kath Owen arrived in a vintage car, accompanied by the Band of the Royal Artillery, who have a very busy schedule of their own, carrying out over 300 engagements every year. My duties included officially opening the 123rd show and escorting the mayor on a short tour of the exhibits. Just time for us all to have coffee before my official guests arrived for drinks before the official luncheon.

I had invited dear and valued friends Sir Mansel and Lady Aylward from South Wales; Mr and Mrs Sandy Frew; Mr and Mrs Robert Watson; Charles Hathaway; Cristina de Oliveira-Frewen and Joanne Goodwin, the Editor of Shropshire Life.

We walked the short distance to Shrewsbury High School where drinks were served and I was delighted to see so many really elegant ladies and their display of millinery. Having a keen eye for a smart lady I especially noticed Anne Flint in a navy blue fitted suit and marvellous navy hat trimmed in yellow; Jane Heber-Percy in a sugar pink tailored jacket over black dress and a colonial straw hat, Carolyn Trevor-Jones in a black and cream suit with a large cream straw hat; Suzanne Wilson in striking black and white with a cheeky saucer hat; Julie Hodgson looked wonderful in scarlet and black and Margaret Frew in smart navy blue with a white polka dot and a very classic navy hat. But the Presidents Best at Show award would have to go to Ann Kirkham, straight from the pages of Vogue in a dress of the deepest shade of heliotrope with an acid green jacket and a most dramatic regal purple hat. We dined superbly on smoked trout pate and smoked salmon with lemon mayonnaise tartlet, followed by cold Shropshire fillet of beef and the traditional whimberry pie for pudding. I spoke briefly and, I hope, amused the guests with anecdotes from my 32 years as a florist, and proposed the continuing success of the Shropshire Horticultural Society.

Then a whirlwind tour of the Food Hall and Craft Marquee and a meeting with the Hairy Bikers who were packing them in for their most amusing culinary demonstrations, and then off, and nearly running, to The Shropshire Society in London tea party, hosted by their president Michael Lowe and his charming wife Janet. This was such a happy gathering with many friends present. I was pleased to see their chairman Nigel Hill, whose ancestor stands aloft the column by the Shirehall, David and Mary Johnson, David Tudor, Christabel Winny, Mary and Simon Kenyon-Slaney, Sheila Langford, Sam Price and so many others.

One hour later we were meeting the premier award winners, before hosting a cocktail party for personal friends at Quarry Lodge, the official residence during the show for the president and chairman. Just time for a sandwich, and to dress in warmer clothes for the amazing finale in the main arena.

The Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry, complete with lances, takes four months of rehearsal and includes the horses lying down at command. The riders are chosen for their ability to ride well and the horses selected for their calm temperament and athleticism. This was followed by the massed bands of The Corps of Royal Engineers and the Royal Artillery and the Shrewsbury Male Voice Choir. I couldnt have been prouder while taking the salute at the conclusion, as the Massed Bands marched off, before we witnessed the most spectacular of firework displays from Kimbolton Fireworks.

Tired, damp and weary, but very happy, we made our way home, knowing that the following day had an even more packed itinerary for us to enjoy.

Saturday arrived all too soon, and it was smart dressing again for Anna, who was top to toe in powder blue, with another striking hat clustered with feathers. Another cocktail party at mid-day and afterwards we were entertained by Stewart Gilliland UK chief executive of Mller, one of the main sponsors of the show.

After lunch there was just time for another quick walk through the packed showground and to do some shopping, then it was afternoon tea with past presidents, past chairmen and vice presidents and their ladies. I was pleased to see Charles Rogers-Coltman and his wife Tessa who was looking so poised and elegant in a powder blue fitted Chanel suit; Lloyd and Sally Kenyon and Catherine, Lady Forester. Following tea we just about made it through the heavy rain showers back to Quarry Lodge for another drinks party, and an opportunity to entertain more friends. Social host for these parties was my old friend Garth Marshall.

The Massed Bands and Chester Male Voice Choir were tremendous, and I was impressed with the March Past of the Standards of the Royal British Legion, bringing a lump to the throat during the singing of Jerusalem and Rule Britannia. And then Lt Col. Carver, the Chairman of Shropshire Horticultural Society took the salute, as the bands left the arena to rapturous applause. Fireworks concluded the evening and a very tired president and his lady made their way back to Quarry Lodge for whisky and sandwiches and to say thank you to the committee and stewards for all their hard work in making the 123rd show so memorable.

My abiding memories of being president at the 123rd show are of my immense pride in the County of Shropshire and its horticultural heritage which is so superbly displayed at Shrewsbury Flower Show. Would I do it again? You bet I would.


Trophy: William Adams Gold Cup
Winner: Plant Heritage (NCCPG)
For: Finest display featuring water

Trophy: C. S. Asbury Silver Vase
Winner: Mr G J Johnson
For: Vase of three medium decorative dahlias

Trophy: Edith Aveling Silver Cup
Winner: Direct Chrysanthemums
For: The finest display in show

Trophy: Godfrey Bazeley Cup
Winner: Mrs E G Bream and Mrs S James
For: Floral art

Trophy: The Dennis Blakeway Salver
Winner: Mrs H Davies
For: Six specimen coleus

Trophy: Florence Bowen Bowl
Winner: Mr J H Anthony
For: Bowl of miniature Roses

Trophy: Viscountess Boyne Cup
Winner: Mr D Jones
For: Flowering and foliage plants

Trophy: The Bob Brown Memorial Trophy
Winner: Mr J C Hughes
For: Six specimen fuchsias in pots

Trophy: Chamber of Commerce Cup
Winner: Roualeyn Nurseries
For: Finest display of fuchsias

Trophy: Copplestone Bowl
Winner: Master M T B Birch
For: For a container of cacti and/or succulents

Trophy: Margaret Crooke Memorial Salver
Winner: Mr A J Bracegirdle
For: Six vases of hybrid tea roses

Trophy: Dingle Cup
Winner: Hippopottering Nursery
For: Outstanding exhibit

Trophy: David Evans Memorial Trophy
Winner: Jane M Mott
For: Floral art

Trophy: Raymond Evason Millennium Trophy
Winner: Mandy's Plants
For: Most innovative display in Quarry Marquee

Trophy: James Fisher Salver
Winner: Mr R Ingram
For: Collection of vegetables

Trophy: Flora Statuette
Winner: Devine Nurseries
For: Finest display of gladioli

Trophy: Goldsmiths Perpetual Trophy
Winner: Mr A J Bracegirdle
For: Exhibitor gaining highest number of first prizes in rose classes

Trophy: Gredington Cup
Winner: Mrs J Pugh
For: Exhibitor gaining highest number of prizes in the floral art section

Trophy: Bobbie Harris Memorial Trophy
Winner: Mr G B Bradley
For: An exhibit of foliage

Trophy: Hodnet Cup
Winner: R Gareth Roberts
For: Highest number of points

Trophy: Holloway Silver Cup
Winner: R Gareth Roberts
For: Six vases of sweet peas

Trophy: Mike Hough Memorial Trophy
Winner: Lanyon Bowdler
For: Best external garden

Trophy: Frank Jayes Trophy
Winner: Miss F N Forgarsi
For: Specimen house plant

Trophy: Bertram Jennings Challenge Trophy
Winner: F J Hankin
For: Best hanging basket exhibit

Trophy: Arthur H Jones Trophy
Winner: Mrs B M E Evans
For: Floral art

Trophy: Bertha Machin Salver
Winner: Mr P M Keeley
For: Six pots of multi-stemmed fuchsias

Trophy: G T Malthouse Cup
Winner: Mr R W Griffiths
For: Display of potatoes

Trophy: National Westminster Bank Trophy
Winner: Plant Heritage (NCCPG)
For: Second finest display in show

Trophy: George Nicholas Silver Vase
Winner: Mr K Goodwin
For: Best exhibit of chrysanthemums

Trophy: Rosa Perry Lloyd Salver
Winner: Mrs S E Pearson
For: Floral art

Trophy: Piggott Silver Cup
Winner: Mrs S E Pearson
For: Floral art

Trophy: Earl of Powis Cup
Winner: Direct Chrysanthemums
For: Finest display of chrysanthemums

Trophy:R H Price Salver
Winner: Craig House Cacti
For: Outstanding exhibit

Trophy:Quarry Cup
Winner: Pinewood Bonsai
For: Outstanding exhibit

Trophy:J N Ritchie Salver
Winner: C B Chislett
For: Highest number of first in annual flowers

Trophy:Royal British Legion (Shropshire Trophy)
Winner: Mr J C Hughes
For: Exhibitor gaining most first prizes in fuchsias

Trophy:Royal Bank of Scotland Rose Bowl
Winner: Jane Pugh
For: Floral art

Trophy:Bill Ruff Trophy
Winner: Mr D A Perry
For: Basket of vegetables

Trophy:Jean Ruff Trophy
Winner: Mrs J Powis
For: Best collection of bonsai

Trophy:Michael Sandford Salver
Winner: Sarah Hill
For: Most innovative/attractive stand in Craft Marquee

Trophy:Severn Bowl
Winner: Oswestry Allotment Society
For: Outstanding exhibit

Trophy:Shavington Cup
Winner: Mr J Chetwood
For: Display of 12 cacti and/or succulents

Trophy:Shrewsbury Cup
Winner: Plant Heritage NCCPG
For: Finest display of hardy plants and flowers

Trophy:Shrewsbury Flower Club Salver
Winner: Mrs Brassington
For: Floral art

Trophy:1951 Silver Cup
Winner: Thompson & Morgan
For: Finest display of vegetables

Trophy:Gilbert Smith Cup
Winner: Shrewsbury Flower Club
For: Floral art

Trophy:Society's Silver Cup
Winner: Mr I Mace
For: Best exhibit of carnations or pinks

Trophy:Shropshire Star Golden Jubilee Trophy
Winner: National Vegetable Society
For: Best exhibit of carnations

Trophy:Stirchley Cup
Winner: Mr C Chislett
For: Vase of annuals

Trophy:Robert Sydenham Cup
Winner: Mr A Jones
For: Exhibitor gaining the highest number of prizes in vegetable classes

Trophy:Frank Tanner Memorial Cup
Winner: Mr J Whitaker
For: Show jumping

Trophy:Severn Marquee Percy Thrower Trophy
Winner: Mr R Gareth Roberts

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