TV newsreader and former ‘Strictly...’ winner is surprise guest at show

Natasha Kaplinsky made a surprise visit to the Spring Garden & Leisure Show at Ardingly this weekend, presenting the Supreme Champion rosette to a Huacaya Alpaca from Houghton Hall Alpacas.
Natasha Kaplinsky made a surprise visit to the Spring Garden & Leisure Show at Ardingly this weekend, presenting the Supreme Champion rosette to a Huacaya Alpaca from Houghton Hall Alpacas.

Newsreader and TV presenter Natasha Kaplinsky was a surprise visitor to the Spring Garden and Leisure Show over the bank holiday weekend, launching the 2016 show season at the South of England Showground in Ardingly.

Iain Nicol, CEO, South of England Agricultural Society, said: “We had a marvellous weekend where the showground was full of fabulous plants and entertainment to really kick off spring.

There was plenty for children at the show

There was plenty for children at the show

“It was a great warm-up for the South of England Show on June 9-11.”

Natasha Kaplinsky, who won the first series of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2004, presented the main prize in the South East Regional Alpaca Show where dozens of these fascinating camelids from South America competed for the coveted title, won by a Huacaya Alpaca from Houghton Hall Alpacas.

The Spring Garden & Leisure Show offered green-fingered enthusiasts great plant shopping and lots of gardening tips, with Jean Griffin of BBC Sussex, Surrey and Kent returning as the resident gardening expert for the weekend, chairing the ever-popular Gardening Theatre.

Bank holiday family fun was spread across the weekend with leisure activities for all ages including meeting a Mangalitsa – a woolly pig; kids’ face-painting; the much loved ‘Mini Sheep Show’; a fantastic fairground; and the regional Crufts Qualifying Open Dog Show.

There was plenty for children at the show

There was plenty for children at the show

More than 800 dogs from the region’s top breeders took part in the dog show, managed for the first time by Chairman Brian Ballan and honorary secretary Helen Osborne-Brown, with Newfoundland, Farlo, owned by Elaine Coldwell from Redhill winning Best in Show which will take him on to compete at Crufts 2017.

Visitors also tested their skills at the new caravan manoeuvring course run by The Caravan Club, as well as trying out target shooting and FootGolf, said to be the UK’s fastest growing sport, with Tilgate Forest Golf Centre’s 3-Hole FootGolf.

Children had a chance to pet farm animals, have a go at milking Buttercup the cow and take part in countryside art activities in the Countryside Hub at the Discover the Countryside Area, as well as following the popular Fluffy Duck Trail.

2016 President of the South of England Agricultural Society, Charles Moore, also former editor of The Telegraph, visited the Show on Sunday and was pleased to announce his charity of the year, Rwanda Aid, which was founded in East Sussex.

A collection will be held to support the charity, which provides support to rural communities in Rwanda, at the South of England Show next month.

Admission to the South of England Show: Under 16s go FREE (when accompanied by a paying adult £20); senior citizens and students over 16 £18. Save 10% when you buy online and up to 20% with early bird ticket discounts at www.seas.org.uk.

There is free parking and a regular bus shuttle service from Haywards Heath train station to the showground.

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.

1) Make our website your homepage

2) Like our Facebook page

3) Follow us on Twitter

4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!

Always the first with your local news.

Be part of it.