Like the eight million people who visit the North York Moors National Park every year, I love the unique landscape of flat-topped heather-clad uplands and deep, often beautifully wooded, valleys.
Magical places like Kildale, on the north-western edge of the park, where this year I was immensely privileged – and proud – to be joint president of the annual show with my wife Akshata.
We have so many wonderful agricultural shows in the constituency, and they serve to remind me just how big our constituency is. This time last year, I was president of the Moorcock Show, which is around seventy miles away at the other end of the constituency!
During our tour of the Kildale showground with show chairman Andrew Sutcliffe and his wife Emma, we met many of the competitors, exhibitors and visitors, while also keeping a close eye on two entrants making their debut in the pony classes – our daughters!
It was great day and the weather ideal – bright, dry and breezy – so nobody got too hot as with some shows held earlier in this glorious summer.
Our presidential duties included judging the pet lamb classes which I confess we rather bottled – splitting the difference between Jovi Wood, aged 7, and Eva Fawcett, 8, so they were joint winners.
While around the sheep pens I was also able to congratulate Jack Turnbull, aged 13, who had enjoyed great success in the Blue-faced Leicester gimmer shearling classes.
There were some terrific trade stands, including Lizzie Medley’s beautiful hand-printed card designs and Ruth English with her Winnie’s Yorkshire Delights (excellent award-winning beetroot relish).
I could only spend a short time at the Land of Iron stand manned by volunteer Geoff Taylor and the North York Moors National Park’s David Mennear.
Land of Iron is a fascinating Heritage Lottery-funded project which helps explain why the moors are dotted with so many rather strange, seemingly out-of-place, industrial relics – like the striking Warren Moor mine chimney in Kildale.
Many of you will know, of course, that this industrial heritage has its origins in the extraordinary boom (and ultimately bust) of the ironstone industry.
Many of the relics left from this period are crumbling and the stories around them are at risk of being forgotten forever. An important element of the Land of Iron project is making sure that these iconic structures are protected from ultimately disappearing back into the landscape. It’s a fascinating project.
A brilliant day was made complete for a very proud Mum and Dad with one of our daughters collecting a couple of third prizes and taking part in some exciting (if bruising for me!) pony games.
Thank you to all the people whose hard work and dedication – not just on show day but in the run-up – make these events happen, not just at Kildale but at every show throughout the constituency.
These annual celebrations of agricultural life are important community events and their longevity (Kildale Show was first held in 1881) is testament to the enduring strength of the communities in which they are held. We should continue to savour and cherish them.
I’m really looking forward to welcoming everyone to my free Older Persons' Fair at the Golden Lion Hotel in Northallerton on Wednesday morning. We now have more than 30 organisations attending to provide information and advice on how to live well in later life. I look forward to seeing you there.