Progress and Expansion 1970-93

Following the period of relative standstill of the fifties and sixties the records indicate a mood of determination within the Committee to break new ground in the hope of expanding the show and making it more appealing to the paying public.

However, the Society would not have survived to enjoy greater success were it not for the loyalty of some of it’s long serving members.  Mrs Winnie Fletcher became one of two joint secretaries in 1970 having previously served on the Committee and in later years she was med President.  The other joint secretary was Mrs Margaret Ward who had lived in Froggatt since early childhood and who exhibited at the Show until her death in January 1994 – indeed the entire Ward family have become quite renowned for their prowess at local shows particularly in the domestic classes.

The 1970 show was regarded as successful with an increase of 76 in the number of entries.  Mr Eddie Welch of Bakewell, a renowned dahlia grower, had been a judge, as had Mr Frank Sirett who lived for many years in Froggatt and achieved fame as a photographer with the Sheffield Telegraph.  It also marked the first year of competition for the J. Skelton Cup presented for the best painting or drawing in the Junior Class.  Claver Sough Nurseries had also staged the Trade Stand which proved very popular.

In 1971 another long serving member, Mrs Sarah Middleton, who had been Secretary for nine years, was elected Vice-President and ten years later she became President.

Also that year Miss Sheila Morton was elected to the Committee.  At that time there were three generations of the Morton family serving the Society – Mr John Morton was President and Mr Clifford Morton was also on the Committee having first been elected in 1968.  Clifford was to become Chairman in 1989 and was elected President in 1994 – a fitting tribute for the many years of service to the Society.  Miss Morton (who later married Mr George Siddall of Grindleford) became Secretary and in 1978 was elected Treasurer.

There is no doubt that the continued success and prosperity of the Society is in no small way attributable to the loyalty shown by the names which have been highlighted throughout this booklet.

It was felt that the only way to attract better support for future shows was to enlarge the schedule so that it gave more appeal to the wide range of talents possessed by so many people of all ages.  Evidence of the desire to succeed in this respect was noted in 1971 when there were fifteen eople willing to serve on the Schedule Sub-Committee.  Their efforts were not in vain because in the period 1970-80 the total number of entries almost doubled to 855.  With this expansion the Society was prepared to accept that it would lead to additional costs and so a lot of emphasis was put fund raising activities.  The Society was fortunate to have as Vice-President Mr R. G. Pryor of Claver who had established a beautiful Bird Garden and open days were held for several years with the proceeds being devoted to the Society.  As a result of these and other fund raising social events each year the loss incurred on Show Day was more than covered and the overall financial position of the Society became more secure as the years went by.

The enlarged show also required more preparation and although there were sufficient volunteer helpers the practice of spreading the workload over the three days leading up to Showday was necessary and was started in 1971.  Should readers wonder if this is really necessary it might be interesting to list just a few of the jobs to be done after the marquees have been erected – setting up tables to a prepared plan, covering tables prior to marking out each designated class based on the number of entries received and space required, preparing car parking areas entrances and exits, collecting chairs and a miscellany of equipment, erecting the pony ring and the tables for stalls and side shows, the rigging of bunting and preparation of the tea tent and the band area, distributing signs and posters, setting up the ‘loos’ and ‘digging the hole’ etc etc – and it has all to be cleared away by lunch time on the day following the show!

A good show, however, makes it all worthwhile and at a meeting on the 8th September 1971 the Chairman, Mr Albert Carnall, said the recent show was considered the most successful ever held – it attracted 116 exhibitors.  The following year saw the presentation of the Sidney Gillott Trophy awarded to the exhibitor gaining the highest number of points in the Domestic Section.  However, the Committee were not resting on their laurels and residents of Froggatt were circulated in a bid to recruit new members.

A sad occasion for the Society in 1972 was the death of the President and one of the original founders, Mr John Morton.  In his memory a magnificent silver trophy was presented to the Society by the family to be awarded to the Froggatt resident gaining the highest number of points in the show.  His place as President was filled by Brigadier Levesley, and he presided over the on the 19th of August 1972 which produced a record number of entries – 622 and, blessed with a fine day, attracted a large number of visitors and cars.  The efforts of the Committee were beginning to be rewarded with the Society very firmly established in the Hope Valley, drawing widespread support and operating on a sound financial basis.

In 1973 Mrs R. Atkinson became the first Honorary Life Member in recognition of 24 years in office on the Committee.  The following year the same honour was bestowed on Mrs Winnie Fletcher on her retirement as Secretary.  Only five people have been so honoured in the 50 year history of the Society.  The 1973 show was opened by the Sheffield Master Cutler Mr R. Doncaster and the general interest in floral art was marked by the presentation of the W. A. Bell Trophy to the exhibitor gaining most points in this section.  The total value of all trophies at this time was £1175.  The following year saw the introduction of a Chlidren’s Fancy Dress competition.  This proved very popular for several years until demographic changes led to it being dropped in 1989.

In 1976 the show moved from in the field adjacent to Stoke Hall to another of Mr Warren’s fields by Froggatt Bridge.  This field has been made available on Show Day ever since and is affectionately referred to as the Show Field.  This was a significant year for the Booker family – another name that has become synonymous with Froggatt Show.  Three members of the family were serving on the committee.  Mrs Kath Booker was first elected in 1958 and her husband Ray – a very keen and competent gardener jointed the committee in 1970.  So it was inevitable that their son Geoff should be invited to join in 1976.  Geoff had inherited all his father’s skill and knowledge and became a regular exhibitor and trophy winner in the ensuing years.

At the 1976 AGM the ten Chairman Mr W. B. (Bill) Robinson (who first joined the committee in 1966 and has given devoted service ever since) stressed that if the Society was to maintain its standing and reputation it was imperative that new and young blood be encouraged to join.  These remarks showed wisdom as the Society moves towards the 21st Century and it remains an essential requirement.

At the pre-show Committee meeting held in August 1976 consideration had to be given to cancelling the show due to the long dry summer, but it was agreed that it should proceed as usual.  The result fully justified the decision – 126 classes were supported 165 exhibitors who staged a record 823 entries.  Despite this the show itself made a loss of £144 due to ever increasing costs.  The Society, however remained financially strong as a result of fund raising and social activities.

The 70’s and early 80’s were years of continued progress – 1977 show made a small profit – in 1978 a separate Entertainment Sub Committee was set up to run a family dance/disco in the evening of the show using the marquee.  This provided a great success for the next ten years.  The proceeds were devoted to local charities as well as the Society.

The 1978 Show was opened by Mr Albert Carnall one of the founder members but the practice of having an official opening ceremony was then discontinued.  Another original founder member Mr Fred Wragg retired from the Committee in 1979 having served 30 years (excluding the war period.)

Total entries in 1980 reached 855 filling the huge 150’ x 30’ marquee and the Show itself made a profit of £256.  Whilst the offer of trade stands had yet to be taken up space was allotted to a plant stall staged by Dr & Mrs Hadfield – this proved very popular for several years.

In1980 the Society lost several long serving members, notably Mr Albert Carnall, President and founder member, Brigadier Levesley, a past President, Mr Ernest Fletcher and Mr Herbert Outram who were both founder members.  In memory of her husband Mrs Carnall presented the A. J. Carnall trophy to the exhibitor with the highest number of points in the flower section in 1982 the Ernest Fletcher trophy was donated by Mrs Fletcher to the best exhibit in the Junior Classes.

In 1982 another long serving member Mrs Sarah Middleton, who had served in several capacities since 1949, died whilst President of the Society and the following year at the AGM Mrs Winnie Fletcher was elected President, the first to be appointed for a fixed term of 5 years.

The increasing success of each year’s show also created its own problems for the workload was becoming more onerous – particularly for the Secretary.  A small working party was set up to analyse the range of duties and this eventually resulted in the Secretary’s workload being reduced.

This is the oft recurring problem which faces most successful voluntary organisations and it is vital to the future of the Society that ‘willing horses’ are not take for granted.  If more people can encouraged to do this warning at your peril!

1984 saw the staging of the 40th Show and everybody rose to the occasion – the weather was good and 149 classes were supported by 191 exhibitors with 1006 entries!  There are not many one day shows that can claim such statistics and the reputation of Froggatt Show was recognised over a wide area and attracted visitors from afar.

Whilst the show itself lost £570 the continued support given to the social events ensured that the Society remained financially sound.  To mark the 40th Show a team of ladies prepared a ‘well dressing’ in the village which stood for four days over the Bank Holiday week-end.  It was generally acknowledged as a great success particularly as the ladies had no previous experience of well dressing. The problem of setting records of the sort attained in the 1984 show is that everybody expects year on year improvements, but there are too many imponderables for this, particularly if the character of the genuinely friendly one day show is to be retained – this has been one of the prime objectives of the Froggatt Society since its inception.  The year 1984 war rounded off by electing Mr Fred Wragg and Mr Jack Leadbeater as Honorary Life Members, a fitting tribute to two loyal long serving members.

The success of the 1984 show necessitated increasing table space in the marquee to 1000 feet for subsequent shows whilst entries between 1985 and 1991 fluctuated between 650/850 it ensured the marquee never became too crowded.  With continually rising costs admission had to be increased to 50p in 1985 – which was still good value for such a pleasant and interesting afternoon.

There were moves to stage a small dog show in 1985 but once again the idea was rejected with not being in keeping with the overall objectives of the show.  However, strenuous efforts were made to provide attractions for children with a balloon race, play bus, fire engine, Punch and Judy show etc.

In 1985 Mrs Kathleen Barnacle was elected “Acting Secretary” – she proved an ideal choice and became permanent secretary the following year and has held the position ever since.  The Society are most fortunate in having as willing and efficient as Kathleen to organise the administration of its affairs.

In 1986 the total number of classes was 150 (in 1936 there were 83) and the trophies held by the Society were valued at £7720.  Additional trophies however, were still being offered and in 1987 Mrs Welch donated the Eddie Welch Trophy for the heist number of points in the Dahlia Class and Mr Macleod donated the Chequers Inn Trophy for the highest number of points in the Wind and Beer Section.  There was a need to further extend the table footage to cater for the additional stall holders and in 1988 this was increased to 1100 feet.  The stalls gave an added attraction and proved very popular with the public.

Joy and tragedy were experienced by the Society in 1987/88 because on the 28th October 1987 Mr George Warren was elected President – a thoroughly deserved and fitting tribute to the Warren family who had loaned the field to the Society for many years.  Their generosity in making a field available without charge since 1949 has been a most significant factor in the success of the Society.  However, in January 1988 Mr Warren died tragically and everyone in Froggatt felt they had lost a very dear friend.  It was only right that at the AGM on 26th October 1988, his widow, Mrs Sandra Warren was elected President for the ensuing five years.  At the same time Mr W. B. Robinson (bill) was elected an Honorary Life Member – again most thoroughly deserved; Bill’s service in the Society (including many years as Chairman) goes back to 1966.

The year 1988 saw the presentation of the Fred Wragg Trophy for 4 onions from seed and in 1990 Mrs S. E. (Bessie) Hibbs presented a trophy for the best 6 pods of runner beans in the Local Section.  The name Hibbs has been synonymous with Froggatt since Mr Goff Hibbs brought his famile to the village in the early 1950’s to work at Moorlands.  Goff was very keen on maintaining old traditons, which is hardly surprising as the Hibbs family can be traced back at least 250 years within the Hope Valley.  Their son, Michael, has served the Society in various capacities having first been elected to the Committee in 1970.  In recent years he had taken over the onerous duties of Show Manager and, as previously mentioned, auctioneer.

Continually escalation of costs led to the admission charge being increased to £1.00 in 1989 following the heavy loss of the previous year, but both the supporters and public took this very philosophically.  It certainly did not deter the vegetable exhibitors or the judges, who in their observations said “the quality of the vegetables was the best in the area.”

The Society entered the 1990’s in good heart with a strong financial base and a healthy membership.  Commercial sponsorship contributed to the prize monies and classes continued to be revised.  However, in recent years there has been a worrying aspect in the declining number of exhibitors – 1984 there had been 191 whereas last year (1993) the number had dropped to 114.

Suitable side stalls were being encouraged and these, with the occasional trade stall and the ever popular members stall, have all been well supported and worthwhile.  In 1993 the Society was presented with their 25th trophy – the Annette Dyson award for the best exhibit in the Floral Art Section which had risen to 8 classes, reflecting a growing interest in the particular skill.

The 1994 Show Day will be on 27th August when the Society celebrate their 50th Anniversary.  It is hoped the doubling of prize money will lead to a record breaking show.  The winter has been cold and wet and seems to have been longer – let’s hope it will be followed by a warm summer culminating in a memorable day.

A lot of hard work has gone in to the Society’s first 50 years, and future generations must do their utmost to ensure this particular tradition in this lovely village is not allowed to lapse.

From “Froggatt and Froggatt Horticultural Society 1935 – 1994”, compiled by John E. Agg and Tom Gorst 1994