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Fine weather could see thousands join Royal couple at Sandringham Flower Show in Norfolk

The Duchess of Cornwall meets and greets the crowd at last year's Sandringham Flower Show . Picture: Matthew Usher. The Duchess of Cornwall meets and greets the crowd at last year's Sandringham Flower Show . Picture: Matthew Usher.

Friday, July 20, 2012
6:54 PM

If the sun shines on Sandringham, one of Norfolk’s best-loved summer events could see a record attendance.

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One of Norfolk’s summer highlights

Summer just wouldn’t be summer without Sandringham.

For thousands, the event marks one of the highlights of the Norfolk calendar, because it somehow manages to keep its appeal year after year, without losing sight of its rich traditions.

Started by the then Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, to encourage tenants on the Royal Estate to take care of their gardens, the first show made a profit of £24 19s 2d, which was given to Norfolk charities.

Since 1977, more than £500,000 has been given to good causes in and around the county. Last year’s beneficiaries included West Norfolk Riding for the Disabled, for which a new pony – appropriately named Charles – was bought for by the show committee for its 130 riders.

This year’s show programme includes a long list of charities, large and small, which received donations from the 2011 show.

A bumper attendance this year means many more will benefit long after the marquees are packed away and the volunteer show committee begins work on planning next year’s show.

Thousands are expected to flock to the Royal Estate for the Sandringham Flower Show on Wednesday. Unlike many of this summer’s outdoor events, forecasters reckon the weather might even smile on them.

Preparations are well under way, as show gardeners and exhibitors put the finishing touches to their displays.

“The weather brings worries, but we’re blessed with a site that weathers very well,” said show chairman David Reeve. “Everything’s going ahead as planned. Providing the forecast from Saturday onwards is correct, we’re going to be OK.

“I was up there yesterday and despite all the rain it’s relatively dry. Around the country, there’s been show after show cancelled.

“The Game Fair was called off last last weekend, Gatcombe was called off, the Suffolk Show was called off.”

Organisers believe the usual attendance could be swelled by people who would have attended other shows and country fairs which have been cancelled over the last few weeks because of the weather.

“It’s going to be a packed day with some great attractions,” he said. “It’s very much along the traditional lines of what we’ve always had.

“We’ve got more gardens than last year, which is a plus. Everything’s spot on course.”

Show gardens large and small compete for the coveted EDP best in show trophies. Their efforts are judged by TV gardeners Chris Beardshaw and Alan Mason, who also run a programme of talks in the Horticultural Talks Marquee.

Many of the region’s leading nurseries and plantsmen and women display their wares, alongside stalls and exhibits celebrating just about every aspect of outdoor living.

Royal patrons the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall make their arrival by horse-drawn carriage, before touring the showground, including a lengthy walkabout in their visit.

This year, a special exhibition celebrating the flower show’s royal heritage will be on show in the Royal Marquee. Compiled by EDP librarian Rosemary Dixon, it includes rarely-seen pictures and archive material from years gone by.

Main ring attractions include the Bolddog Lings motorcycle display team, the Essex dog display team, the Kangaroos gymnastic team and freefall parachutists The Tigers. Exhibitors include rural craftsmen and a feast of Norfolk produce.

Gates open at 9am. The show is signposted from all approach roads to Sandringham. Admission is £9 for adults, with under-16s free. Parking is also free.

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