From interviewing Elton John to developing the Aylsham Show’s Food Hall – Clare Buxton’s story is diverse and fascinating.
Sheringham-born Clare, this year’s show president, left her native county as a little girl, had a successful early career writing for teen magazines, and then returned to Norfolk. She and her husband Andrew have been tenants on the Salle Park Estate, just outside Reepham, for over 20 years, running their sugar beet and grain haulage business.
And as a long-standing member of the Aylsham Show Council, Clare has rolled up her sleeves to help run the show for many years.
Seated in a traditional harvest wagon, with Andrew alongside, she will be presiding over the Grand Parade at this year’s 73rd show, on Bank Holiday Monday August 26, when some 15,000-17,000 visitors are expected to flock to the wonderful parkland of the National Trust’s Blickling Estate to enjoy an affordable family day celebrating the countryside, farming, and food.
The success of the 2018 show resulted in 46 good causes, mostly local, sharing Aylsham Show handouts totalling more than £31,000.
Clare will also sit in a driverless Ben Burgess tractor while it finds its way around the Main Ring controlled by GPS.
She grew up on the west coast of Scotland where her father ran a boatyard and later trained as a journalist in Dundee with publishers DC Thomson – perhaps best known for the Beano comic – writing about pop for best-selling teen magazine Jackie.
“I used to spend my days with people like the Bay City Rollers. I remember flying down to London with them on a private jet,” said Clare.
“I interviewed Elton John – himself wearing a quilted, banana-yellow jumpsuit – and David Essex, a really sweet guy and very, very kind, even when I had to ask silly questions like ‘What’s your favourite colour?’”
Clare moved to publishers IPC in London to help set up what became a best-selling teen magazine, My Guy, running its problem page and quizzes. Young wannabe actors and pop stars featuring in its pioneering photo-strip love stories included Hugh Grant and George Michael.
Keen to return north, Clare secured a place at Stirling University, achieving a first-class honours degree in English with Art History. Nowadays she works in the fine art auctions business, advising on pictures at mid-Suffolk auctioneers Bishop & Miller.
It was while working for Simon Gough, antiquarian bookseller in Holt, that she met her future husband, Andrew, one of four Buxton brothers then farming with their father at Heydon. Clare and Andrew, who have three sons, sold their haulage business about three years ago to concentrate on Norfolk Shepherd Huts, making and restoring traditional East Anglian huts.
Customers have included the late actor Sir John Hurt who ordered his after seeing a hut on display in the Craft Area at the Aylsham Show.
When Clare first became involved with the show, around 17 years ago, there was no Food Hall. “We started with a flapping tent and about six stalls, Swannington Farm to Fork were in that first effort and it is so pleasing to see the fantastic success of that business now,” she said.
“We grew with the help of a government grant and a very dynamic committee, full of energy and commitment: Jonathan Deane (president 2007), Tony Bambridge (president 2015), and Matt Miller from Aylsham’s Black Boys pub all played key roles in developing the Food and Farming area – I just did the paperwork!”
Nowadays thousands flock to buy local food and drink, watch cookery demonstrations, and applaud the crowning of Norfolk’s food heroes, nominated earlier in the year by the public. And visitors can also find out where our food comes from, with hands-on demonstrations.
“Thanks to the irreplaceable and irrepressible Corfield family we have run some terrific competitions.
It’s what the show is all about – promoting agriculture and the countryside, encouraging the public to be part of it and having fun!” said Clare.
“I feel hugely honoured and privileged to be this year’s president. I’m just a worker bee who has worked her way up so it is a truly great accolade; and it also means it could happen to anyone involved with the show.”
A long-time supporter of conservation charity the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, the farm animals are definitely a show highlight for Clare.
She said: “I’m really excited that I’ll get the chance to walk the livestock lines and see the cattle and sheep properly – it is such a privilege to see them. So much hard work and effort goes into bringing them to the show.
“It’s a lovely show to be involved with and the Blickling park setting is unsurpassed,” said Clare.
“I’d urge everyone to come to see the animals. They are such an immediate connection with the countryside.” For more information visit the show website: theaylshamshow.co.uk Facebook: @theaylshamshow Twitter: @aylshamshow Admission is £15 for adults, under 16s and parking is free.
Look out for prize-winning “warm dog” sausages, the invention of nine-year-old Charlie Turner, which will be on sale at the Bash.
Charlie’s “outside in” recipe features ketchup and mustard inside the sausage, rather than smeared on the surface.
It was picked from scores of entries into a competition for Aylsham schoolchildren to come up with a new sausage recipe which could be made by the town’s Coxfords Butchers.
Bure Valley pupil Charlie and his family always enjoy breakfast at Aylsham’s monthly farmers’ market where big brother James, 14, loves artistically squiggling a line of ketchup and mustard along the top of his hot dog – giving Charlie his recipe idea.
“I thought ‘there are already hot dogs, I’ll make mine a warm dog’. I was quite surprised that I won but it made me feel happy,” said Charlie who will visit the Bash after playing in his Aylsham Under-10s’ football match.
At last – refurbishment work is set to begin at the former Clarkes DIY shop on Aylsham Market Place which has been empty since 2015.
Scaffolding is due to go up outside the Georgian building in the next 10 days according to a spokesman for the new owner, who prefers to remain anonymous.
“We just want to apologise for any inconvenience that will be caused but Rome wasn’t built in a day,” said the spokesman, adding that he didn’t know how long the work would take.
Plans were approved by Broadland District Council in November last year which will see the ground floor converted to a restaurant and the first and upper floors into nine rooms for holiday letting.
Built around 1740, the building, at 30 Market Place, is grade two listed.
It was put up for auction in September last year but withdrawn when bidding stopped at £420,000 which was below the £450,000-£500,000 guide price. It was bought by its current owner at the beginning of the year.
Second World War veteran Dorothy Mann, 95, was a VIP for the day when she was formally presented with the Légion d’honneur – France’s top honour – for her vital work during the conflict.
Dorothy worked as a wireless
operator from February 1943 until the end of the war, supporting the Special
Operations Executive (SOE), known as Churchill’s Secret Army.
SOE agents would carry out acts
of sabotage and subversion behind enemy lines, fulfilling Prime Minister
Winston Churchill’s order that they should “Set Europe ablaze!”
Dorothy, who lives at the Royal
British Legion’s Halsey House care home in Cromer, was a wartime member of the
First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) and would send and receive Morse code
messages from French Resistance agents in the field in the run-up to, during,
and after D-Day.
More than 70 years after the
end of the conflict, she and eight other surviving FANYs around the country
have at last received recognition following a long fight for justice.
Dorothy lived in Jannys Close,
Aylsham, from 2004 until moving to Halsey House in the summer of 2017.
Her children, daughters Rosie Hepworth and Julie Ashworth, live in Aylsham.
They joined her at Halsey
House, where others present included RBL officials, for the medal presentation
by FANYS representative Commander Alex Milne, of the all-women PRVC who are on
call 24/7 to provide support to civil and military authorities in times of
Commander Milne said: “I am
sure at the time it did not seem that the work you were doing was vital to the
liberation of France or the successful outcome of the war but history tells us
A letter to Dorothy from the
French Ambassador, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, thanked her for her role. He added: “We
owe our freedom and security to your dedication, because you were ready to risk
Dorothy was also formally
presented with her 1939-1945 War Medal by Commander Milne.
Born Dorothy Clapham, in New
Catton, her father Bertie founded the Clapham and Collinge solicitors. Dorothy
worked as a secretary at City Hall, Norwich, after leaving school. Her first
role in the war was as a warden, patrolling the streets after dark checking
that nobody was breaking the blackout by showing a light. Her father used
to accompany her on these rounds as he didn’t like his young daughter being out
alone at night.
She enlisted in the FANYs, aged
20, in February 1943, and was selected to support the work of the SOE. After
her initial training, Dorothy was sent for wireless and telegraphy training.
In June 1943 she was posted to
Buckinghamshire, where FANYs were billeted in a vicarage to cover 24-hour
shifts supporting SOE agents.
According to her daughter
Rosie, Dorothy would use the call sign of the day to contact agents and would
then receive five-column letter codes from them which would be sent for
decoding to places like Bletchley Park, the top-secret codebreakers’ base. “She
never knew what the messages said or what they were. There were certain times
of day when agents would try and send messages so she would be listening out
for them,” said Rosie.
After her demobilisation,
Dorothy became secretary to the general manager at Norwich Union. In 1953 she
married Arthur Mann, an RAF Coastal Command veteran. He died in 1998.
Rosie said her mother had been “thrilled
and overawed” by the presentation. She added. “It was a lovely occasion. Julie
and I were so proud of her.”
Dorothy also has three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
There will be a public meeting at Aylsham’s Paupers’ Graveyard on Wednesday May 8 at 6pm when Aylsham Town Council and volunteers will present their plans for transforming the derelict half-acre site into a peaceful environment appropriate for all.
The site is between Mill Close and Sapwell Close, behind the old St Michael’s workhouse. The entrance gates are in Mill Close.
If the weather is unsuitable for an outdoor meeting then it will be held in the ACT Centre, on St Michael’s Avenue.
Anyone unable to attend but who wishes to make comments should contact town clerk Sue Lake on 01263 733354 or firstname.lastname@example.org
runner Lewis Blois will be putting a few miles behind him over the next few
days – 182-plus.
37, is planning to run a phenomenal seven marathons in seven days and will
start his feat in Aylsham on Easter Monday, April 22.
and his running buddy Jon Norman, 40, from Costessey, are both chaplains at
Norwich City FC and Jon is lead pastor at Norwich’s SOUL Church.
are raising money to build a home on Heartsease Lane, Norwich, for the church
and the SOUL foundation which helps some of the most under-privileged local
people with food, clothing, education, mentoring, companionship and practical
have previously done five marathons to raise money for Parkinson’s UK as my
grandfather suffers badly from the disease,” said Lewis. “Jon has also done two
marathons and an ultra-marathon but let me assure you, neither of us are
runners. We do not enjoy running and neither of us do it for fun, this is
purely a sacrifice we are making to achieve the goal to help build the new
was brought up in Aylsham and went to John of Gaunt and Bure Valley schools. He
moved back to the town last May with his family and his son plays for Aylsham
wanted to keep the runs local to allow people to join some of them,” Lewis
“We have involved Norwich City FC in two of the runs as they are fully behind
what we are doing and what we are trying to achieve. “The last run we do will
be between the current SOUL church site on Mason Road and the new site at
Heartsease which we will run to and back five times.”
pair started training in May last year and over the past six weeks they have
managed 70-100 miles a week.
added: “A highlight will be arriving at Carrow Road before the game with
Blackburn to hopefully be part of a promotion party!”
The grills and action will be hotting up on May 12 from 10am for Aylsham’s first Big Sausage Bash, celebrating one of Britain’s favourite meaty treats.
As well as the chance to taste and buy dozens of beautiful bangers and other great grub in Market Place, visitors will be able to watch top local chefs and butchers using sausages to prepare and cook mouth-watering dishes in the town hall.
Other attractions will include over 40 food stalls, a sausage competition, live music, and children’s activities at the parish church including a climbing tower and face painting.
Entries have been flooding in for a children’s competition to invent the most original and tasty new sausage flavour and the winning recipe, made by Aylsham’s Coxfords Butchers, will be available to buy.
Visitors will also be able to buy cooked sausages from all the butchers represented in Market Place and vote for their favourite.
Stalls selling a range of locally-produced food and drink, including beers and chutneys, will also be setting out their wares.
The Black Boys pub will have an outside bar and The Unicorn will offer live music.
Cash raised on the day will be shared between the Aylsham Cluster of Schools, Aylsham Parish Church, Aylsham Scouts, Cancer Research UK, Mind Norwich and Hospitality Action UK.
CHEFS AND BUTCHERS IN ACTION
Catch these experts in Aylsham Town Hall:
10.30am: Simon Hunter
Marsh, local chef and forager with Ade Piff the Spice Man.
Butchers, with Johnny and Jason, co-organisers of the Big Sausage Bash.
11.30am: Daniel Frear,
head chef at Stratton House Hotel, Swaffham, and Michael Chamberlain,
head chef at Holkham’s The Victoria Inn.
Noon: Old Hall Farm
butchery, with Tilly Paul.
12.30pm: Adrian Oliver,
chef and winner of the Sausage Roll Off 2019, with Dav Browning, executive chef
from Plymouth Theatre Royal.
Butchers, with the butcher who needs no introduction, Mr Sam Papworth.
1.15pm: Roger Hickman, chef
patron of Roger Hickman’s, Norwich.
Farms and Tim Allen, pig farmer to the butchery stars of the high street.
2pm: Mark Fitch,
winner of Home Chef of the Year award and columnist for the Norfolk Magazine.
2.30pm: The one and
only master butcher himself, Mr Icarus Hines, getting a little tied up with
sausages – and a chance for a little competition.