August 2016

Call for entries for the region’s premier Farm Diversification Competition

The Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA) in partnership with sponsors Ashton Legal is calling for entries for its prestigious Best Alternative Land Enterprise (BALE) award, now in its 25th year.

Open to all farm businesses throughout Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex with buildings or land on their farms, the annual award is the only one of its type in the region and recognises and rewards imaginative and commercial alternative non-agricultural uses of their land and positive effects on the local economy. Previous winners have included a cheese making enterprise, log cabin holiday accommodation, a wedding and outdoor event venue, as well a farm shop, care home and a nursery.

This year the judges are: Jonathan Long, Partner and Head of Agriculture and Estates at Ashton Legal; John Wall, President of the SAA; and Ruth French, a Director of last year’s winning enterprise, Stowlangtoft Healthcare LLP.  The judging will take place on 19th and 20th September.

The first prize is the Ashtons Legal Challenge Cup and £2,000 of legal advice, the second prizewinner and the Best Newcomer both receive £1,000 of legal advice and there is a £500 legal health check for the Best “Green Practice,” all of whom will be announced during the Annual Agricultural Awards dinner to be held at Trinity Park on Thursday October 20. All entrants receive two complimentary tickets to attend the event.

Ruth French, Director of Stowlangtoft Healthcare and last year’s BALE Award winner and one of this year’s judges encouraged farmers to enter their diversification businesses commenting:  “As a small but growing family business, the huge boost given to us by the BALE awards has been hugely welcome.  To be recognised as a successful business by your peers is a fantastic feeling and we feel it has been a springboard to further successes for our business in 2016.”

 Jonathan Long said: “Ashtons is delighted to be sponsoring the BALE Award once again this year and that it will be part of the annual agricultural awards dinner for the fourth year running, giving the Award the profile it deserves.

“We have seen time and time again how bringing in professionals, such as solicitors, enables farmers and landowners to diversify and set up new and exciting ventures without taking anything away from their farming business. I am always astounded by the high quality and sheer variety of the entries we receive each year and look forward to this year’s judging process.”

Phillip Ainsworth, Chief Executive of the SAA, said: “We are delighted to host this annual showcase of rural entrepreneurship.  The standard never fails to disappoint with new and innovative ideas coming forward every year. We welcome new and previous competitors to this year’s competition.”

Entries should complete the entry form which can be downloaded here, and send accompanied by a cheque for £20 per enterprise to Sue Bennitt, SAA, Trinity Park, Felixstowe Road, Ipswich IP3 8UH. Please note all entrants must be members of the Association or apply for membership, at a cost of £57.50, at the time of entering. All entries must be received by Monday 12 September 2016.


Gotelee Solicitors Principal Sponsor for second year

Now, less than a month away, the SAA is looking forward to hosting its second Autumn Horse Show.  Event Organiser, Abi Southworth commented that, ‘ we are extremely grateful to all the sponsors who have helped to make this event possible, particularly Gotelee Solicitors, who have supported the event for the second year as principal sponsor.  Their support has helped us to offer even more classes this year, including championships in each ring and a Supreme Championship’.

Alistair Lang, Chief Executive Office of Gotelee Solicitors said: ‘We’re delighted to be principal sponsor of this event for the second year running.  Gotelee Solicitors is a local law firm with a focus on the local community that it serves, so we are very pleased to be supporting such an important and high profile local event in the equestrian calendar.’

The Show takes place at Trinity Park on Sunday 11 September.  As last year, the Show is aimed at local, amateur riders and will give riders an opportunity to compete in the ‘famous’ Suffolk Show rings.  Discounted entry fees will be offered to SAA members.  All profits made at the Show will be donated to the SAA’s educational activities, principally the School Farm and Country Fair.  Last year’s Show raised an amazing £3,300 for the event.

The Schedule is available here, and  and other equestrian outlets and Shows across the county.  There are over 70 classes including ridden and in-hand showing, show jumping, working hunter, dressage, side saddle, miniature ponies and foreign breeds.  There will also be starter classes for novice riders and horses, family ponies and children’s classes.  There are qualifiers for Equifest, Side Saddle Equitation and a direct qualifier to the National Veteran Championships 2016. 

Pre-Show entries close on 2 September and discounted entry fees are available until this date.  Late entries will be accepted on the day at an increased fee.