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Highlights 2013

Highlights 2013

The Service to Celebrate the Harvest in Westminster Abbey


Martin Clunes led the readings at British Food Fortnight's Service to Celebrate the Harvest which was held as part of British Food Fortnight's campaign to rekindle the tradition of celebrating the Harvest. Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall attended the service which was the first harvest festival to be held in the Abbey since 1966.

530 children from schools, scout groups and girl guides went to the service having won their places in the Abbey through a ‘Harvest Lottery for Schools' that was launched by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall at the beginning of the summer term. The Nave of the Abbey was filled with harvest boxes of goodies they have grown and cooked themselves. The children were joined by well-known personalities from the world of food and farming.

Damian Lewis, the actor most well-known for his Golden Globe and Emmy winning role as Nicholas Brody in the television drama Homeland read a new harvest poem that was written especially for this service by the BBC and Channel 4 sports poet, Henry Birtles.

Martin Clunes, television's Doc Martin, read from St Matthew 6, verses 25-33. Martin is a passionate advocate of the countryside and owns a farm in West Dorset from where he runs Buckham Fair, a traditional countryside fair.

The Bishop of London, The Right Reverend Dr Richard Chartres, gave a special address and The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson MP, read from Deuteronomy 8, verses 7-18.

Milly Wastie, the 24 year old Chairman of the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs, gave a very moving reflection on farming 


Children from Godolphin Junior School, 1st Glan Conwy Brownies and 1st Crookham Scout Group (Odiham District) presented Harvest boxes at the High Altar. Pupils from Vauxhall Primary School and St Peter's Eaton Square Primary School read Prayers.

Other well-known people who attended the service include: Alex James, Hairy Biker and current Strictly Come Dancing contestant Dave Myers, Greg Wallace, Phil Vickery (the former England rugby player), Blue Peter presenter Barney Harwood and Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins, Countryfile presenter Julia Bradbury, Anton Mossiman, Stanley Johnson and Adam Henson (countryside television presenter). 


Following the service, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall met school children in the Nave and talked to them about all the wonderful produce they had grown for their harvest boxes. The Duchess then met Damian Lewis, Martin Clunes and others involved in the service.

All of the produce was collected from the Abbey by the Fullers dray horses and distributed to those in need by the Royal Voluntary Service.

There was a charitable collection for Plant for Peace, an organisation that assists rural communities and smallholder farmers in conflict and post-conflict territories around the world to achieve food security and economic stability. 

The Telegraph Bring Home the Harvest in your Community Competition. 

Bring Home the Harvest in your Community, was a competition held in conjunction with the Telegraph newspaper. It sought to find the community that organised the most innovative, inclusive and imaginative harvest celebration during British Food Fortnight. The initiative must:

  • Strengthen the local community: bringing people of all ages and walks of life together, especially where they may not otherwise have been in contact.
  • Educate about British food: teaching people about where food comes from, how to cook it and how important it is to eat British and support our own producers.
  • Support the local economy: encouraging people to learn about, visit and buy from producers and retailers in their local area.

The winners were selected by a panel of judges from the world of food and farming including: The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Raymond Blanc, Alan Titchmarsh and Philip Clarke, chief executive of Tesco. 

Announcement of the Competition in the Telegraph.

The Judges on why celebrating the Harvest is important.

The winner is announced in the Telegraph.

There were so many stunning examples of communities pulling together to create wonderfully imaginative harvest events, that the judges task was an unenviable one. The winners were presented with their award on Tuesday 22nd October 2013 by Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Winner: Haslington Festival of Food and Farming

The Judges loved the hands-on involvement of the whole community, including family, how the harvest festival began in but was extended beyond the church, the way the event showed the whole spectrum of food production, preparation and enjoyment and the combination of fun and raising awareness of serious topics that will affect everyone in the future.

The event began with the farmers market staged on the village green on Saturday. The stalls sold out of locally produced meat, cheeses, vegetables, eggs, fruit juices, breads and cakes. Local farmers staged displays of tractors (old and new), sheep, goats, beef and dairy calves so that everyone could get close to animals, which are usually seen at a distance in the surrounding fields.

259 members of the community took part in a survey asking the question ‘What posed the greatest risk to our food security for the future?’ They decided that the growing world population, lack of clean drinking water and the effects of climate change posed the greatest risks.

The church provided the stunning backdrop for the Saturday evening when everyone enjoyed a buffet of English and Welsh wines, cheeses and locally baked bread baked while taking part in 'The Great Food Debate'. The panel of speakers included Jim Begg (former Chief Executive of Dairy UK), Sybil Graham (NFWI Public Affairs sub-committee), Keith Ineson (Cheshire Agricultural Chaplain), Ian Scarisbrick (local dairy farmer) and Edward Timpson MP. Topics included: Do we need Farmers to produce our food in the future? and would we have enough farmers to feed us in the future? The event continued on the Sunday morning when local people packed the church for the Harvest Festival Service.

Runner Up: Burnham on Sea Food and Drink Festival

Over 5000 food and drink lovers attended the third Burnham on Sea Food and Drink Festival in order to #BringHometheHarvest. The town centre was bursting with almost 80 stallholders offering products as diverse as award winning pork pies, bison burgers, vintage themed cup-cakes, towering veg stalls and meat marinade "Butt Rub". Integral to the festival are the free have-a-go sessions running by Somerset Skills & Learning, where visitors were encouraged to bake bread or cakes for the first time.