You can keep up to date with the Montgomeryshire 2018 Feature County fundraising plans on their Facebook and page.
2018 President, Tom Tudor, with wife, Ann (Left), Feature County Chair, Anwen Orrells and Lady Ambassador, Cathrin Roberts
Tom R Tudor MBE FRAgS
2018 President, Royal Welsh Agricultural Society
There is no bigger honour and privilege as a Welsh farmer than to be elected President of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society. I wish to thank the people of Montgomeryshire for their support and their efforts in raising funds, promoting our county and the Royal Welsh Show.
Ours is a rural county, situated in the heart of Wales, and the warmth of the people and its gentle rolling hills is epitomised in Welsh by the saying ‘Mwynder Maldwyn’. It’s very much an agricultural county, sustaining our community life and maintaining our language and culture.
Agricultural organisations play a very important role and depend on voluntary efforts and contributions by many people. There are 18 Young Farmers Clubs in Montgomeryshire, eight agricultural and horticultural shows, three successful grassland societies, and the Montgomeryshire Agricultural Association’s farm competitions, to name but a few. Our central location means many sheep and cattle breed societies also hold meetings in Montgomeryshire.
I was born on a tenanted hill farm in Cwm Nant yr Eira, Llanerfyl. Sheep were the main enterprise, so I grew up gathering and shepherding on horseback. The open hills meant this more often than not involved a team approach, with good neighbours and good dogs!
The warmth and comradeship of all the farmers getting together for shearing and harvest days created a strong sense of belonging, which stays with me to this day. There were no telephones in these upland areas, so I was frequently sent as the messenger boy on horseback.
I recall that as an 11 year old I had to trek five miles over the mountain to fetch four cattle on horseback, with only a dog as company. From a young age, I wanted nothing more than to be a farmer.
My father believed in the importance of education and I was sent to board at Tywyn Grammar School. I look back fondly at my time there. I had good (and somewhat mischievous!) friends, an inspirational agriculture teacher and any spare time was spent playing rugby.
The plan was to go to an agricultural college after leaving school, but it wasn’t to be. I was 17 when my father passed away, leaving me to take on the full responsibility of running the farm with my mother. It was a challenge, but I was fortunate to have a close family network and excellent neighbours.
Six busy years later, when I was about to get married, we had the opportunity to buy Llysun. We did that on a Wednesday, before getting married on the Saturday, back in September 1968.
It is only upon reflection that I realise the significance and scale of the venture that we had ahead of us, but we’ve never looked back. Buoyed by a period of significant agricultural support for greater production, we grasped the opportunities to develop the farm based on utilising grassland to its optimum in beef and sheep production.
This exciting period in my life saw us blessed with three children, Catherine, Richard and Huw. Today, we have the pleasure of one granddaughter and three grandsons.
I recognised from my early days of farming the value and importance of co-operation and collaboration. I grasped opportunities to work together for the benefit of the industry, from the Welsh Halfbred Society and Welsh Mule Sheep Breeders and their role in improving the performance of breeding ewes, to Bro Ddyfi Grassland Society and working to highlight the importance of grass utilisation.
This co-operation is nowhere better highlighted than with the promotional activities of Welsh Lamb Enterprise. We established it as a voluntary farmers’ organisation in the early Eighties, to promote and market Welsh lamb in Europe.
A voluntary levy of 4p per ewe enabled Welsh lamb to be promoted as a unique product for the first time, distinguishing it from British. I am also proud of my involvement in the partnership formed between Waitrose and Welsh lamb producers in the early Nineties and we continue to supply them with lamb.
One of my earliest memories was of my father showing Welsh Mountain Sheep at the Royal Welsh Show in Machynlleth. I remember the Royal Welsh Shows at Machynlleth and at Aberystwyth being flooded out.
There was a particularly memorable journey down to the Royal Welsh Show at Haverfordwest in 1955. We travelled there and back on the same day in a Standard Vanguard car.
We were relieved and lucky to arrive home safely, as my father was nodding off! The present Show and its incredible facilities would certainly be highly commended and approved of by those early Show founders.
The wealth of the natural landscape in Montgomeryshire and in Wales gives us the resources to combat the effects of climate change, whilst producing a protein source in beef and lamb by utilising the grasslands of our hills and uplands.
Water quantity and quality are becoming the limiting factors in world food production, so we are ideally located to feed a growing population that demands the healthiest, highest welfare assured food.
The role of livestock in maintaining the picture postcard patchwork of fields and valleys is essential to the sustainability of our world. It is also essential to the sustainability of our rural areas, maintaining people and our communities.
I feel fortunate to have farmed through a peaceful era in the history of our country and a very fruitful era in agriculture, where production was encouraged.
Today, we have the uncertainty and complexities of Brexit to negotiate. While I agree with the need to control our own policies as a country, I do feel it is vital that we value the importance of working in partnership and collaborating with our neighbours in Europe.
We certainly do not want tariffs on our exports as it would have an extremely detrimental effect on our industry, and in particular on our Welsh lamb. Frictionless trade with our main trading partners must be a priority.
As we watch the news from around the world, it is clear that we live in very uncertain and volatile times, with destructive conflicts in many regions. Water and food shortages and plastics in our oceans all highlight the increasingly damaging human footprint on our planet.
Our response to these concerning issues must be to safeguard food security for our people and take control of our own destiny. Producing food, sustainably, must be given priority and here in Wales we are ideally positioned to deliver this essential ‘public good’.
Farming in Wales has an exciting future and I am confident that our farmers will deliver on all fronts.
The Royal Welsh Show is the highlight of the farming calendar and is an incredible shop window to showcase to the rest of the world what Wales and its farmers have to offer.
The collaborative model of all the counties coming together under the guidance of the Show directors and their team of staff drives its success and is a perfect example of what can be achieved when everybody works together.
The Show creates in me an overwhelming feeling of proudness. Proud to be a farmer, proud to be Welsh and proud to be part of the wonderful Royal Welsh community.
2018 Lady Ambassador, Royal Welsh Agricultural Society
It is a great honour and privilege for me to write this report as Montgomeryshire Royal Welsh Lady Ambassador for 2018. It is a role that I have always dreamt of and I am extremely honoured to be elected as Lady Ambassador of this great Society.
I am a Montgomeryshire girl, brought up in Trefeglwys and surrounded by my close family. I went to Trefeglwys Primary School, then Llanidloes High School and, after leaving school, I began working as an accounts assistant at Whittingham Riddell LLP. I have been with the firm for the last 11 years and I am now an accounts manager based in the Newtown office, acting for both agricultural and commercial clients.
I have attended the Royal Welsh Show from a young age and I remember staying at the Show in the caravan on Stockman’s Hill with Mum, Dad and Sarah, my sister. Mum and Dad would show their Rouge sheep and it was always a week we looked forward to as a family. I moved on to showing horses at the Show and have continued to do this.
Horses are a big part of my life and I have followed in the family footsteps by showing horses from the age of about four. I spend most summer weekends in the lorry, travelling the country to a show.
The Young Farmers movement has been a large part of my life. I have been an active member of Trefeglwys YFC, competing for club, county and national in various competitions. I am now club leader and county treasurer.
The Young Farmers Federation is very important in the farming community, providing great educational, training and social opportunities. The skills I have learned through the movement have helped in my role as Lady Ambassador and it is great to see the Young Farmers movement and the Society working so closely together.
As Lady Ambassador Elect in 2017, I had the opportunity to meet so many hard working and inspiring people. It has made me realise how much hard work, dedication and commitment goes on behind the scenes at all of the events.
I would like to thank Georgina and all the RWAS staff for the kind advice and support they have given me. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as Lady Ambassador Elect and it has prepared me well.
I would also like to thank the Montgomeryshire Advisory Committee for all of the support I have received. I am now very much looking forward to the year ahead and to be representing Montgomeryshire in our Feature County year.