Press Release: HRH The Duchess of Cornwall joins hundreds of children at Birmingham Cathedral
Sponsored by Tesco
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall joined hundreds of children and a host of supporters from the world of food and farming to celebrate the harvest at a special service at Birmingham Cathedral yesterday.
The National Harvest Service is part of the Bring Home the Harvest campaign, run by the organisers of British Food Fortnight, which aims to bring together communities from across the UK and to rekindle the age old tradition of celebrating the Harvest. This year the service was supported by Tesco who have pledged to help improve the next generation’s relationship with food.
Over 350 children and teachers from 20 schools attended the service having applied for a place in the summer term. Each group has since spent time planting seeds and researching local foods to harvest for the service and the fruits of their labours were on proud display inside the Cathedral.
The children, and all the other guests, were greeted by a small slice of farm life, as sheep and goats from Hatton Adventure World were in the Cathedral grounds as they arrived. At the beginning of the Service, the Harvest ‘Torch’ was processed and placed on the Alter. The Torch, made by Master Blacksmith Andrew Hall, is a specially commissioned sculpture that depicts the harvest’s natural bounty and is the food and farming community’s answer to the Olympic Torch! The Torch will be kept at Birmingham Cathedral for a year until it moves to the next city that hosts the National Harvest Service.
Sixteen year old Lauren Williams, Young Poet Laureate for Birmingham 2013-14, read her poem ‘The Harvest’, a reflection on the meaning of bringing home the harvest in the world today [the poem is in notes below]. Meurig Raymond, President of the National Farmers Union, read from Deuteronomy 8.7-9, 28.3-6. Meurig is himself a farmer in Pembrokeshire and was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours in 2005 for his services to agriculture.The Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, gave a special address and Claire Worden, National Chairman of the Nation Federation of Young Farmer’s Clubs, pondered the question, “Why do farmers farm?”
Children from Bartley Green School, Halesowen Home Educators and St Francis CofE Primary School presented harvest offerings to the Dean during the service. The prayers were read by George Ashley from West House School, Deborah Oyedijo from The Oval Primary School, Farhan Hussain from Marlborough Infant & Nursery School and Charlotte Sullivan from Abbeys Primary School.
Evelyn Cooper, Head Teacher of Marlborough Infant and Nursery School said, “Participating in the National Harvest Service gave the children of Marlborough Infant and Nursery School a unique opportunity to contribute in a small way, with our Helping Hands' box, to the fabulous work done in our city for those less fortunate. Yesterday's event reflected the ethos of generosity and charity shown by parents and children in our school. The opportunity to give thanks for the food we eat in a multi-faith celebration and to meet HRH the Duchess of Cornwall is a memory that will last with us forever.”
Adam Kearney, a Year nine student at Copleston High School said, “We have had great fun with all the activities leading up to the Service in Birmingham. We really loved attending Birmingham Cathedral and were especially excited about meeting HRH The Duchess of Cornwall who was very lovely. Everyone was so kind and we enjoyed seeing our hard work being loaded on the back of a horse and cart to go to a local foodbank and help others.”
Alexia Robinson, Founder of British Food Fortnight and organiser of the National Harvest Service, said, “We hope that yesterday’s service in Birmingham Cathedral, together with all the other activities that have been organised as part of British Food Fortnight this year, will encourage other communities to come together to celebrate the harvest. The children’s pride in presenting their harvest boxes shows that, even in this hectic digitalised age, there is still a place for celebrating the delight of growing and harvesting food."
She continued: “Next year the National Harvest Service – and the Harvest Torch – move to Bristol Cathedral, where we will continue our campaign to encourage more young people to take delight in this joyous and long-held tradition.”
Others who attended the service included Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins, Olivier Blanc, creator of children’s character Henri Le Worm and son of renowned chef and writer Raymond Blanc, and top local chef Glynn Purnell.
Following the service, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall viewed the children’s harvest boxes in the South Aisle and spoke to them about the produce they had grown and made.
The harvest boxes were then loaded onto a 100 year old horse drawn trolley, owned by local farmer Kevin Morris, and taken to the Birmingham Central Food Bank. The contents of the boxes, along with the produce, kindly donated by Tesco, which made up the display at the Main Entrance will be distributed to people in crisis in the city.
Notes to Editors:
For further press information and images please contact Love British Food on
British Food Fortnightis the annual celebration of the diverse and delicious food that Britain produces. It was founded thirteen years ago in response to the foot and mouth crisis in order to encourage the public to support British farmers and food producers. Hundreds of shops, pubs, and restaurants take part every year with special menus and promotions. The event is also an established date on the school calendar, with many schools using it as an opportunity to teach children about food. It is organised by Love British Food, a small independent organisation that educates consumers, retailers and caterers about the benefits of buying British. You can find out more about its work at www.lovebritishfood.co.uk.
British Food Fortnight is sponsored by ARAMARK and a large family of organisations led by Centreplate, Hallmark Care Homes, Cucina Restaurants and Whiting and Hammond.
Bring Home the Harvest and The National Harvest Service are kindly sponsored by Tesco.
Schools/groups who attended:
|Abbeys Primary School||Milton Keynes|
|Bartley Green School||Birmingham|
|Beech Hill Primary School||Newcastle|
|Collaton St Mary C of E Primary School||Devon|
|Copleston High School||Ipswich|
|Halesowen Home Educators||Halesowen (Birmingham)|
|Hazeley Academy||Milton Keynes|
|Marlborough Infant & Nursery School||Birmingham|
|Meriden C of E Primary School||Coventry|
|Moredon Primary and Nursery School||Swindon|
|Nova Hreod Academy||Swindon|
|Rednal Hill Infant School||Birmingham|
|Rodboure Cheney Primary School||Swindon|
|Sir Christopher Hatton Academy||Wellingborough|
|St Francis CE Primary School & Nursery||Birmingham|
|St Hubert’s RC Primary School||Sandwell (Birmingham)|
|The Oval Primary School||Birmingham|
|West House School||Birmingham|
|Southfields School for Girls||Kettering|
The Harvest Torchwas made by Andrew Hall, Master Blacksmith. Andrew works from a traditional thatched forge nestled in picturesque village of Branscombe, Devon. He is a former 'International Live Blacksmith of the Year' and 'National Live Blacksmith of the Year' title holder, and now an accredited Judge of live blacksmithing competitions. Andrew says, “I am delighted to have been selected to create the Harvest Torch, many of my designs are inspired by nature and so this is a wonderful opportunity to create a piece so dedicated to that subject. I am also delighted to be supporting such a worthy project and hope that it will bring inspiration to future generations celebrating the harvest.”
Kevin Morris is the owner and driver of the historic horse-drawn trolley, which was used to take the boxes of harvest produce to Birmingham Central Food Bank. The Trolley is 100 years old (built in 1914) and was owned by Kevin’s Great Grandfather, who used it to deliver produce from his farm into the city of Birmingham.
The Birmingham Central Foodbank, led by the Birmingham Christian Centre, is based in Ladywood and works together with other local churches, frontline agencies, grassroots community organisations, statutory agencies, care professionals and schools to provide support for families and individuals experiencing a crisis. Foodbanks help to prevent family breakdown, housing loss, crime and increased poverty. Birmingham Central Foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust‘s UK-wide network of over 400 Foodbanks.
Lauren Williams, aged sixteen, currently holds the position of Young Poet Laureate for Birmingham 2013-14,a post that young people aged 11-17 are invited to apply for each year. Lauren Williams is the ninth Young Poet Laureate and has been writing poetry since primary school. She is passionate about poetry and her acting studies at the Birmingham Ormiston Academy have allowed her to add more performance to her poetry. She said of writing a poem for the National Harvest Service, "I am really happy to be commissioned to write for the harvest festival, it’s such a great opportunity for people to come and share together at an event located in the heart of the city".
Read at the National Harvest Service and written by
Lauren Williams, Young Poet Laureate for Birmingham 2013-14
Bold undertones of green are the only reminder of the fading Summer
And when the colours in the trees finally fade they are replaced by rich tones of bronze and gold.
The leaves that still cling to the branches are a stark contrast
to the Autumn leaves that litter the ground,
Making the statement that they have been used for their purpose
and can be now discarded.
Making the statement that the richer bronze and gold leaves hung like medals
And the crumpled lifeless leaves littered on the floor
Represent the metaphor that is poverty,
Where the rich stay high and mighty and the poor are easily replaceable.
You see nature itself was woven together with the basic laws of use and be used
But as human beings shouldn't we take the rich tones of bronze and gold and label each other champions.
Harvest time, a time when even the hands on the clock are offered up to help,
The hour when Father Time himself was late because of the mixed messages from the weather,
The minute when rain and shine work together to complete the harvest.
Harvest time, the time for summer tans to be hidden and replaced by dirty hands covered in earth,
For mankind to prove why kindness is used as a noun and not an adjective,
When Shakespeare said what's in a name
his rhetorical question can be answered kindness.
That mankind would be called by any other name and could be more caring.
Harvest time, a time when we prove ourselves not just in our determination to grow food but in our willingness to feed the world.
Bring home the harvest, made up of food glorious food that makes you ask please sir may I have some more.
Lay your table with glorious food cooked with passion,
Food from overseas that has history in other places but its roots are still planted in our soil,
Food that needs preparation from wrinkled hands that are saturated with knowledge and soft inexperienced hands that need to be worked.
Invite the golden and the crumpled leaves so that the hierarchy of rich and poor can decay and make way for equality in the spring,
Bring home the harvest, and let strangers be seated at your table so they can become neighbours and friends,
Bless the less fortunate with a stomach full of food so that they can be satisfied by the diverse range crops boiled together in a melting pot.
Love British food and bring home the harvest.
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