Quotations from P G Wodehouse are copyright of, and reprinted by permission of, the Trustees of the Wodehouse Estate © 2019 The P G Wodehouse Society (UK)

The P G Wodehouse Society (UK)

The Berkshire Pig Breeders Club is responsible for holding the Best of Breed competition for Berkshire pigs at annual Agricultural shows up and down the country.

A Champion Pig

The Grand Final, so to speak, has for many years been held at the Newbury Agricultural Show in Berkshire, in September, and for the last ten it has been sponsored by our Society. One result of this is that our Chairman (or, on a couple of occasions such as this year, a past Chairman) has had the privilege of placing the sash over the winner’s back, always assuming that he or she (the pig, not the Chairman) stays still long enough.

The 2014 competition, held on Sunday 21st September, represented a milestone for the Society. After giving the matter serious thought, we have decided not to renew our sponsorship arrangements now our second five-year sponsorship agreement has come to an end. In the last few years, we have found very few members actually come along to the show.

The Association was able to tell us that earlier this year they appointed a new patron, the TV nature documentary presenter and farmer Kate Humble. They hope that this will enable them to raise the profile of the breed which continues to resonate with Wodehouseans.

This year’s competition was handled in a slightly different manner than the more traditional approach of parading all the heat winners from shows throughout the country in the ring together. It was decided that as there were more boars than usual, it might be appropriate to have the six boars parading first, followed by the nine sows, and to recall about a half of each group for a final parade before the judge. Phil Fowlie from Anglesey was the commentator during the parade, ensuring that the crowd was aware of the Society’s sponsorship, and our Past Chairman, Norman Murphy, was handed the microphone for a minute for his five minute talk about Wodehouse’s discovery of a pig at Hunstanton, and his subsequent development of the Empress of Blandings as a major character.

Some faces belonging to familiar owners were in the final mix – such as Chris Impey, Sue Fildes, last year’s winner, and Sharon Barnfield, last year’s runner-up. Judge Joanna Wykes-Sneyd from Suffolk, a long-standing, much respected breeder and judge, took her time before announcing the Champion to be ‘Buster’, a very substantial boar owned by Chris Impey, and the Reserve Champion to be the sow Kilcot Mermaid 7 from Sue Fildes’ Dittisham farm in Dartmouth, whom Sharon had bred and who had won the award last year.

The winner’s sash was duly presented to Buster by Norman Murphy, after successfully persuading him (Buster, not Norman) to stand still, and the trophy was handed to the owner with less difficulty. Norman performed his party piece, showing a skill in scratching Buster’s back as though to the manor born and Susan Vandyke, one of the Society members who was present, proudly announced that her husband had correctly chosen the winner, though he had declined to disclose to her the criteria he used to make his judgement.

The Society will keep a close eye on the Berkshire Pig Breeders Club’s fortunes in the next few years and wish them every success in further promoting the Berkshire Breed. We eagerly await reading news which may be generated by its new Patron.

Tony Ring

24 September 2014

A contender showing off his paces

Buster with Norman Murphy and his owner, Chris Impey

Sue Fildes with the runner-up, Kilcot Mermaid 7