Bringing everyone together again for a National Fruit Show, back at Detling, with the magnificent display of fruit at its heart, turned out to be quite emotional. The joy at hearing laughter and animated conversations as old friends and colleagues met up again was well worth the hard work, and with awful weather forecast it ensured that plenty of growers and their teams could feel justified in coming rather than braving the elements.

There were new innovations and services around every corner, and with some substantial reports on hand we had plenty to talk about with the Minister. It was good to have Victoria Prentis with us; she took the challenge from the NFU’s Tom Bradshaw and acknowledged that our sector has much to give and is a positive benefit to society and the environment. She was dispatched back to London with amazing fruit, along with copies of the handbook, the BAPL sustainability report and the Rural Policy Group’s investigation into financial sustainability in the food industry.

I also delivered winning fruit and reports to the Queen and to the Prime Minister. Visiting number 10 delivering a gift is a wholly enjoyable experience, it must be said. Hosted by Helena and her Garden Room team (Churchill called them his Garden Girls), we are always welcome.

The Garden Room team are those responsible for the Prime Minister wherever he may be; they travel with him, prepare his red boxes, organise travel and everything that would be needed throughout each term of office. They are an invaluable point of contact and they have aided us in delivering key industry messages in a non-confrontational way. We always receive acknowledgements and notification that the reports have been shared with relevant DEFRA teams.

In addition to celebrating a reunion of the industry, we were also celebrating the contributions to the industry of two important individuals through the inaugural awarding of commemorative awards.

The Jon Jones Award has been created to recognise a notable contribution to the fruit industry; someone who modestly has excelled at their day job and also worked on behalf of the industry to its great benefit. It was an absolute joy to be able to award the beautiful trophy to Carmella Meyer of Boxford farms, Copella juice and Plantsman PO fame.

Not only has she been a key person on POs with the DEFRA/RPA team for a number of years, Carmella has led a PO, sat on the board of British Apples and Pears for multiple decades and always worked for the betterment of the top fruit industry. Hats off to her family, who managed to keep it a secret!

The second commemorative award was created to celebrate the Ian Johnston take on life – a practical innovation that could benefit any farm business. It was lovely to be able to present the award to the team from OX Truck, developers of an electric four-wheel drive farm truck that farmers can build, maintain and customise themselves. Designed to be maintained without dealership intervention, its presence at the show attracted great interest.

Planning has begun for 2022, so if you have a potential cover picture you would like us to use across all next year’s fruit show material, please send it over.