This year sees the 25th anniversary of the hugely popular Young Craftsman of the Year Competition at the South of England Show. For the Committee Chairman, Sarah Peay, the event is a labour of love, following in the footsteps of her late father, Jim Green, the competition’s joint founder.
It was in 1987 that Jim, a founder and former Chairman of the Society, along with Pauline Comber, first came up with the idea of a competition to showcase the work of the best of the next generation of craftsmen and women. Since then, the Young Craftsman of the Year Competition has repeatedly attracted the highest calibre of entries, exhibiting to South of England show-goers a spectrum of skills from all the key craft trades and professions.
Sarah took over the competition’s organisation in 2003 and, in its 25th year, she is determined to continue its high profile by inviting back former winners to display what they are making now and to pass on their experiences to the current generation.
Sarah, whose mother, Ann, and daughter, Kirsty, also help with the event, said her role of co-ordinating the Competition was highly enjoyable as well as very rewarding. “Altogether we are there for about nine days, starting with the painting on the Saturday before the show, then accepting the entries followed by the judging, then putting together the exhibition and, finally, returning everything.
“I suppose what I enjoy most about it is meeting the youngsters and getting to know them over the few days of the Show and finding out what they plan to do in the future,” Sarah continued. “I also get a buzz out of meeting the people who come to see the exhibition, whether it’s the President of the Society or a member of the public who hasn’t been in before.”
One of the newer challenges of the competition and for the judges is to embrace a modern world based on computer technology and to understand and recognise its place and importance in traditional crafts as well as modern ones. “We want to keep the tradition of craftsmanship but at the same time recognise that we are working with young people in a computer dominated world, knowing also that they will be expected to know about the technology side when they enter the business world themselves.”
The Young Craftsman of the Year Marquee is at the heart of the South of England Show, and demonstrates not only skills and rural influences but diversity, technical expertise and the longevity of the craft teaching that is still being passed down the generations.
The South of England Show takes place on 7, 8 & 9 June from 9am to 6pm each day, at the South of England Showground, Ardingly, West Sussex. Full details of events and attractions which include the daily Cattle Parade, national show jumping, hackney carriage driving, stunt motorcycle riding, a sway pole acrobat, bands, horticulture, animal husbandry, food, drink and retail exhibitors and the special Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Display are on the website. Ticket and travel information can also be found on the website.
Published 4th June 2012
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