Meet the Stewards

Kay Spencer – Festival Director

About Myself:

I am a butcher’s daughter from Devon and originally came to Wales to work for the Ministry of Agriculture after leaving Seale Hayne Agricultural College. I worked in West Wales as Dairy Husbandry Advisor before moving to Monmouthshire to marry a dairy farmer. Having been a keen member of the YFC movem

ent for many years I realise the importance of young people in various roles in the countryside and especially the future for farming. For 17 years I was the secretary of the Monmouthshire Show and also became Chairman of the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations, so have the experience of having worked with and visited many shows throughout Great Britain. I first became involved with RWAS as Chair of YFC competitions committee, became county advisory committee secretary and eventually Board member for Monmouthshire.

Why Volunteer and Support the event:

My first involvement with the Festival was as main ring steward almost 20 years ago when the society first took over the event from the Smallholder Magazine. This gave me the sense of a fantastic event in the making. The event has seen many ups and downs over the years but I have persisted in helping move it forward and developing, which has meant many changes over the years but making it a more solid and meaningful event. I love it and treasure the time I spend working on the event and with the many other volunteers who all pull together to make it the efficient machine it is.

What’s New?

Well we try to have something a bit different every year and as you will see from the various profiles, each section tries to do its bit in creating something new and interesting. We also have new sections in Woolhandling and a flea market this year. 

Fred Slater - Chairman

About myself:

Although a confirmed Blackcountryman, I spent almost every weekend and holiday from the age of about five at a farm on the banks of the River Severn in Shropshire. Here I gained my farming “wellies” in the skills of mucking out pigs and cattle, hand and later machine milking, hedge cutting with a brushing hook, pitching bales, stooking sheaves of corn, handling the shire horses and later driving the little grey Fergie that replaced them, as well as taking the time to appreciate the wild plants and animals and to learn some fishing “skills” from one of the last great coraclebased poachers on that river! Life then took me to Aberystwyth University, then to school teaching for a few years and back to Aberystwyth University (now almost 50 years ago) and I have lived in mid Wales ever since mainly in Newbridge on Wye. Here I worked for Cardiff University based until my retirement on the Llysdinam estate of the Venables Llewellyn family. In 1976 Sir Michael Venables Llewellyn,  (a past President of the RWAS) “suggested” I might like help at the summer show and, as in many aspects of life, one thing leads to another and I am now Chair and Assistant Honorary Director for Horticulture at the summer Show and Chair of the Smallholding and Countryside Festival.

Why volunteer and support the event?

Since its early days, I have worked in several capacities with the Festival in its changing forms, attracted by the wider opportunities to contribute to many aspects of its development. As a comparatively small event, we have the opportunity to try out new ideas bringing something different to our programme every year, be it new breeds/classes in the livestock programme, new events within the Festival umbrella such as the Trail Run or increasing or decreasing elements in response to changing popularity with our visitors. In my view any good event must constantly be evolving to bring the best to its visitors, and it is this challenge which continues to attract me to this Festival

Tanya – Chief Steward – Angora Goats

About Myself:

I am a tenant farmer of an upland sheep farm on a large water-catchment estate in Mid-Wales.  I also work part-time at a local University with a team developing distance learning courses. I farm with my daughter Erinna. We keep hardy Welsh mountain sheep on an open-hill ‘hefted’ upland system. We aim to keep the hardiness of the hefted flocks (i.e. good feet, tough waterproof fleece, and long-lasting teeth) because the farm’s land and environment is challenging. In addition, we aim to improve the meat value of the lamb for market and our expansion into food production. We aim to breed and grow the best we can in harmony with our SSI farm environment.

Why volunteer and support the event:

I have been showing goats with my family at the Royal Welsh Show since 1976 – formerly with my parents Anne & Mel, and now with my daughter Erinna. Initially, we bred dairy goats (our British Saanen ‘Ceiriog Tina’ won the Royal Welsh Show in 1976), and in the early 1980’s my parents became founding members of the British Angora Goat Society & British Mohair Marketing. My daughter is a judge of Angoras & Mohair, judging at the Breed Society show in Malvern as well as abroad. We have been showing Angora goats at the Royal Welsh Show for 29 years, and every year at the Smallholding & Countryside Festival. My father was on the committee that arranged the Angora / Goat building and I am proud to continue in his footsteps and steward at the show and sponsor the mohair fleece classes.

I cannot steward alone – the show is only as good as the exhibitors and the helpers old and new. The Angora / Goat Building hosts a range of exhibits at the Smallholding & Countryside Festival, including Angora goats, mohair fleeces and in recent years new entries of colourful Boar goats and a fabulous ‘Goat to Garment’ spinning and craft exhibition. All of these exhibitors, stewards and helpers work hard to make a ‘good show’ and the Goat Building is an inviting, interactive and informative place to come and meet new friends, and encourage an open approach to diversification of livestock and produce in the countryside. We hope that you enjoy the festival, exhibitions and the display in the Angora / Goat Building!

Paul Unwin – Chief Steward – Boar Goats

About myself:

I was born on a mixed farm in mid Wales and since then the rural life has been an integral part of my life. Currently, my wife and I run a smallholding in south Shropshire, focusing on Boer goats and Welsh Mountain sheep. We have been keepers of Boer Goats for over six years with the aim of producing high-quality stock for breeding and meat production. I am keen in promoting the quality of Boer Goats as a premium meat breed and highlighting the differences between meat and milk breeds.

Why volunteer and support the event?

The Smallholding and Country Festival is the highlight event of our farming year.  The quality of stock, the range of demonstrations and variety of country sports at the festival are just inspiring and we also come away full of new ideas and information.  This event could not take place without the support of the army of volunteers.  Being a volunteer helps to ensure the quality and continuity of the festival and allows you to feel a greater connection with this friendly like-minded community.

What’s new in the Section for 2019 & why should any new exhibitor think about making the move to exhibit for the first time on the Royal Welsh Showground? Over the last decade the quality of Boer goats in the UK has got better and better.  This is a fantastic opportunity to see some of the best quality meat goats in the UK. 

If you are new or thinking of keeping Boer goats come and see some of the best and talk to the expert.

Fiona Elpick – Chief Steward – Dairy Goats

About Myself:

I have been involved with livestock and the Countryside all my life, keeping horses, chickens, sheep and goats over many years. As I do not currently have stock to look after, I get my ‘fix’ from helping other goat keepers, where possible. I have been Chief Steward for the Dairy goat section at the Smallholding & Countryside Festival for more than 10 years now and I look forward to it every year. It allows me to catch up with other goat keepers that I haven’t seen all winter and see goats that were youngsters last year that are now mature adults this year.

Why volunteer and support the event?

Volunteering to support this event is hugely important to the future of agricultural shows. Without the many volunteer in all sorts of roles, there would be no-one to do the leg work. Many agricultural shows are finding it very hard to keep going, however the RWAS is still successful in running events throughout the year. Part of the success is down to the knowledge, experience and willingness of volunteers to help organise and run the various sections.

What’s new in the section for 2019 & why should any new exhibitor think about making the move to exhibit for the first time on the Royal Welsh Showground?

New for this year is the facility for exhibitors to bring milking machines. I am hoping that this will enable more exhibitors who are unable to hand mil their goats, to exhibit this year and in the future. We are also going to be able to allow the public to view the milking competition procedure. New exhibitors will receive a warm Welsh welcome in our section and we pride ourselves on being a dairy goat show where novices and more experienced goat keepers can come together to enjoy a weekends showing. Our team of stewards are very experienced in helping wherever necessary. The weekend consists of two back-to-back shows, on Saturday and on the Sunday, with a full list of male and female classes on both days. We are looking forward to welcoming the Anglo Nubian, British Alpine and Toggenburg Breed Societies for their Regional Show as part of this event.

Pete & Kathy Bowdler – Chief Stewards – Horses

About Us:

We have had an involvement with horses for a combined total of 96 years! We own and compete our own horses, and it is a passion we share which has escalated since we met in 1996 to heights we never thought possible – including wins at HOYS, but most importantly to us, at the Royal Welsh Show. Three years ago, around the time we started as Chief Stewards at the Festival, we both resigned from our employed positions and now have our own Financial Advice Business which continues to grow. We both sit on the Advisory Committee for Glamorgan, due to feature in 2021. Kathy is currently Chair and Treasurer of this committee, and has been Treasurer since 2011. Peter is Treasurer for the W Glamorgan Arm.

Why volunteer and support the event?

We compete ourselves throughout the year and are very grateful to organisers of the shows without whom events would not be possible. We feel that by helping out at shows in a stewarding capacity, we are putting something back into the showing world. We are assisted during the Festival by our amazing teams of stewards and without their help we would be unable to put on the event. The Smallholding & Countryside Festival is aimed at riders and horses who would maybe not compete at the Royal Welsh Show. The sections included in the schedule are not held in the main show and the focus is on encouragement of novices and giving them the opportunity to compete in the main ring at the Royal Welsh Showground. We must not underestimate the kudos of competing on this turf.

What’s new to the section for 2019 & why should any new exhibitor think about making the move to exhibit for the first time on the Royal Welsh Showground?

Each year, we try and build on the success of the previous year and add new classes in, lots of the ideas of the new classes come from Competitiors. This year we have added Mountain & Moorland (excluding Welsh Breeds and Shetlands) In-Hand and ridden classes have been introduced this year for both Small Breeds and Large Breeds along with some extra Novice classes. Stewards are really friendly and plentiful and, judges are selected who will encourage and support competitors.

Graham Pearce – Chief Steward – Pigs

About Myself:

I have worked and been involved with pigs since the 1960’s. During this time, I was showing in all the major shows in Britain including the events held at Builth Wells. I worked for the Prison Services Farms for 26 years running a commercial pig unit producing bacon and pork, and also a small unit of pedigree Berkshire Pigs, some of which were exported to Canada and Japan.

Why volunteer and support the event:

I volunteer and support the Smallholding & Countryside Festival as a way of putting something back into farming. I hope to encourage and educate people thinking of entering the Farming Industry in the merits of pig keeping and animal welfare in general.

What’s new in your section for 2019 & why should any new exhibitor think about making the move to exhibit for the first time at the Royal Welsh Showground?

Anyone breeding pedigree pigs should take this opportunity to compete and interact with other breeders, to see how their pigs compare against the best. Also any prizes won would enhance the sale potential of their stock.

Elaine Wearden – Chief Steward – Pygmy Goat Section

About Myself:

Originally a Lancashire Lass I moved along with my husband Glenn 3 years ago to a smallholding with a holiday cottage in Cwrtnewydd, Ceredigion in 2015. We have a herd of 20 pygmy goat, 14 sheep, 2 rescue cats and a black Lab named Meg… “Escape to the country” put into action! We started our herd of Calderbank Pygmy Goats 12 years ago and have shown at the Smallholding & Countryside Festival for the last 3 years.

Why volunteer and support the event:

The Pervious Chief Steward Mr & Mrs Peter Mercer who have successfully run the show for the last 17 years and were ready to retire from show duty. They asked us if we would be interested in taking over from them. We feel this is a great honour and hope we can continue to make the event as successful as it has always been.

What’s new in the section for 2019 & why should any new exhibitors think about making the move to exhibit for the first time at the Royal Welsh Showground:  

The Facilities at the showground are first class. A great day out for young and old. Our Section is all undercover so come rain or shine the show goes on. We are very keen to encourage new exhibitors who would be helped and given advice from our-team. New for this year we are introducing and extra class for Veteran male on request from members of the Pygmy goat club and hopefully will be a success.

Andrew Edwards – Chief Steward – Sheep

About Myself:

I farm in partnership with my father on an upland beef and sheep farm in the heart of the South Wales valleys. We keep a flock of 250 South Wales Mountain ewes and a small suckler herd of Limousin X cows.

Why volunteer and support the event?

Agricultural shows are important to the rural community. What is special about the Smallholding & Countryside Festival is that it enables us to meet likeminded people and socialise at the end of winter and talk about the successes and failures of the calving/lambing/kidding and farrowing that have happened. It also should encourage non farming people to attend a countryside show.

What’s new about the section for 2019 & why should any new exhibitor think about making the move to exhibit for the first time at the Royal Welsh Showground?

Exhibiting at the Smallholding & Countryside Festival allows exhibitors to show at the Royal Welsh Showground in a more relaxed environment than the summer show and allows a practice run as it were for later on in the summer show season.

Geriant James – Chief Steward and Announcer– Cattle Section

About Myself:

I was born in St Dogmaels, North Pembrokeshire, before moving to a larger farm near Newport, I am a dairy Farmer’s son and have worked as an Auctioneer/Vauler/Land & Estate Agent since leaving school. I am now the General Manager of Dai Lewis Cyf covering the whole of South West Wales. I have been commentating at various Agricultural Shows in West Wales for 25 years, as well as being a Committee Member and former Office holder of 3 local shows 

Why volunteer and support the event:

I was co-opted onto the RWAS Pembs Advisory Committee in 2005, in readiness for the Pembs Feature County Year in 2007. I become a member of the Preseli Area Fund Rising Committee in 20016 and have acted as their secretary & treasurer ever since. The committee supported the 2007 appeal by raising some of £40,000 and have gone on to support Ceredigion in 2010 and Carmarthenshire in 2012 with donations, as well as supporting other local causes. Now we are full steam ahead with Pembs 2019 and we have raised some £60,000 already as an Area Committee. We are fortunate to have our 2019 president serving as our committee chairman. In 2005 I was appointed to represent Pembs on the Winter Fair Committee, as post which I still hold. I joined the cattle commentary team at the 2008 winter fair and have also become senior steward within the cattle section, looking after Sponsors and preparing the Carolau o’r Cylch Carol Service. I also act as MC for the stockman’s supper on the Monday evening. In 2008, I was appointed as county secretary for the Pembs advisory committee, which I still am and currently secretary of the Pembs feature county committee 2019. I also sit on the society’s council. In 2009 I became a cattle steward at the summer show. Since then I was made senior steward, with responsibility for one breed section, before looking after the commentary text of the cattle section and interbreed winner for the Grand Parades. I am now a member of the Chief Stewards team with responsibility for cattle ring display and layouts as well as my former responsibilities. In 2011, the former Spring Festival introduced competitive classes for Traditional, Native and Rare breeds of cattle and I have been section commentator from the beginning. Since 2016, I have also been Chief Steward of the section. At all Royal Welsh events there is a friendly, one big happy family feeling to them and that is how I Joined the Stewarding team. I have come to know a wide circle of stewards, staff and exhibitors who I know term them as lifelong friends.      

What’s new in the section for 2019 & why should any new exhibitors think about making the move to exhibit for the best time on the Royal Welsh Showground?

ew for 2019 is the standalone section for Longhorn Cattle and hopefully we can encourage more young handlers to compete on the Sunday morning. The Smallholding and Countryside Festival is the ideal place for a novice exhibitor to start at, before considering moving up to the larger and more competitive Royal Welsh show. You will be able to get used to the layout of the Showground, and arrival / departure procedures which are similar to the summer show, and to gain more experience and learn from fellow exhibitors/ stewards/ judges on the start of showing cattle. It can also be a mini holiday for you and your family! More than anything else you will hopefully meet new people who will become associates and friends which you will see on an annual basis on your pilgrimage to Llanelwedd.