Tree Planting for former Chief Executive of the RNAA

An informal tree-planting dedication was held in memory of a former chief executive of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association.

The late John Purling, who died in April last year aged 69, was at the helm of the RNAA for 18 years until 2012.

A 40-strong group, including his widow Ena and family, met under leaden skies to plant a large-leafed lime near the light horse ring – just yards from his former office.

The Dean of Norwich Cathedral, the Very Rev Jane Hedges, who was the 2017 RNAA president, led the dedication and brief prayers, on Thursday, November 1.

When a long-established tree fell in the January storms, Greg Smith, chief executive, said that it was fitting to plant a replacement in Mr Purling’s memory.

Among those gathered at the showground were Sir Timothy Colman, who was chairman of council when Mr Purling was appointed general manager in 1994. Two years later, he became chief executive, working with Henry Cator until 2009 and finally Sir Nicholas Bacon, who stands down as chairman of council next April.

The president, Ben Turner, and other senior officials, including finance director Grant Pilcher, vice-chairman Rob Alston, and head stewards, past and present, and RNAA staff also attended

In her closing remarks, the Dean read a brief extract from Isiah, Chap 55, v12:

You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.

As the rain started to fall, she invited members of the family to add some soil to the newly-planted tree.

Michael Pollitt