Melplash Agricultural Society celebrated a ‘fantastic day’ of hedge laying and ploughing as its own society president claimed a top award.

The 176th edition of the event took place on Sunday, September 24, on land owned by Mr and Mrs Oliver Hemsley just off the A356, near Corscombe.

There was plenty of competition in hedge laying and ploughing across several classes that saw the society’s own president, Michael Fooks, claim one of the day’s top awards.

Society match chairman, Tim Frampton, said: “It was a fantastic day.  All classes were well supported, and the competition was keen with a good number taking part for the first time. 

“It was so good to see so many people coming to watch despite not being the most favourable weather. The annual hedge laying and ploughing match is always an important day in the society’s calendar. 

“As well as marking the start of the Society in 1847, it gives all of us who work on the land an opportunity to show others our skills and the pride we have in the work we do.   

“This year is another memorable year as it was the first time that a society’s president has taken part in the competition.  

“It was an honour to have this year’s president, Michael Fooks, competing in the ploughing match as he has done for the last 60 years, only missing it once when he was the society’s chairman in 1984.

“We all congratulate him on winning his class and for being named as the Champion Ploughman for both the Local and Open classes.

“Winning of course is a bonus and a position we can only enjoy until next year.”

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Winning plot 20.

Other notable winners in the ploughing category included David Cobb, who was Champion Vintage Ploughman and Champion Ploughman in Vintage and match ploughing classes, whilst Millie Johnston picked up the Best Young Farmer's ploughman.

In the hedge laying division, Steve Eldridge took Champion Hedgelayer, whilst Reggie Saint and Jack Ferret were the highest placed Young Farmer’s, with The Bill Hook Trophy for the Best Lady Competitor going to Lydia Lee.

The prize giving was hosted by the society chairman, Philip Hardwill, who thanked everyone who made the day possible.  

Also thanked were the landowners, Mr and Mrs Oliver Hemsey and the farm manager, Ian Andrews, the sponsors, the stewards and helpers, all the competitors and the judges. 

The prizes were presented by the society president, Michael Fooks.

The results in full:


Chief Steward:  Philip Hardwill, Society Chairman


Mr Anthony Butler, Bridport and Mr Richard Curtis, Bridgwater

Mr Arthur Hayward, Tiverton and Mr John Kerslake, Tiverton

Best Turned-Out Tractor & Plough judged by Mr Roy Vickery and Michael Hole

Class 8 - Vintage Trailed:

1st David Cobb

2nd Millie Johnston

3rd Malcolm Trott 

Class 9 - Vintage Hydraulic

1st Rodney Cuff

2nd Michael Symonds

3rd Geoff Fry

Class 10 – Match Ploughing

1st Tim Frampton

Trophies & Special Prizes

Champion Vintage Ploughman and winner of The Jack Dare Memorial Trophy – David Cobb

Best Strike Out in Vintage classes – David Cobb

Best Finish in Vintage classes – David Cobb

Champion Ploughman in Vintage and match ploughing classes & winner of the Blandford & Webb Perpetual Challenge cup – David Cobb

Best Ins and Outs in classes – Rodney Cuff

Class 11 - Classic Tractor & Plough (without Q cab)

Joint 1st David Lockyer & Malcom Selby and winner of the Tony Ascott Perpetual Challenge Cup

2nd Tony Ascott

3rd Colin Hawkins

Class 12 - Tractor & hydraulically operated 2 or 3 furrow plough

 1st Michael Fooks

2nd John Harris

 3rd Robert Johnson

Class 13 – Tractor & hydraulically operated 4 or more plough

1st John Shute

2nd Will Doble

3rd Barry Dennett

Class 14 – Contractor Challenge – reversible ploughs to use both left- and right-hand  board

1st Garry Stevens winner of Creed Brother’s Seaborough Salver

2nd Bernard Hayball

3rd Tom Baker

Trophies & Special Prizes

Champion Ploughman (Open) and winner of Col. Sir Stuart Mallinson cup – Michael Fooks

Champion Ploughman (Local) and winner of silver perpetual Challenge Cup – Michael Fooks

Winner of The Streatfeild Perpetual Cup to Best YFC Ploughman – Millie Johnston, Marshwood Vale YFC

Best Ins & Outs - Dave Lockyer

Best Strike out -John Harris

Best Finish – Robert Johnson

Best Ploughing with Case International Case or David Brown with Kverneland Plough presented with Silver Perpetual Challenge cup – Tm Frampton

Best Ploughing with Ford New Holland – John Shute

Best Ploughing with a John Deere Tractor presented with a special prize donated by Hunt Forest Group, Dorchester – Garry Stevens

Sam Dennett Perpetual Memorial Trophy presented by the family for the best finish with a four or five furrow plough – Bernard Hayball

Novice Ploughman

1st Tom Baker

2nd Millie Johnston

Best Turned-out Tractor & Plough presented with a bottle of whisky donated by Mr Roy Vickery – Adrian Holloway.

Hedgelaying Results

Chief Steward: Mrs Mandy Woodham


Mr Roger Parris, Honiton

Mr Roger Vickery, Thorncombe

Mr Peter Yeates, Bridport


Chainsaw Steward: Mr Mark Tilley


Class 1 – Hedgelayer – Local & Open class

1st Steve Eldridge and winner of The Elizabeth Lady Williams Challenge Cup

2nd Colin Risdon

3rd Russell Woodham

The Cecil A Marsh Challenge Cup presented to the Best Local competitor – Steve Eldridge

Class 2 – Novice Hedgelayer

1st Michael Baker and winner of Marcus Beresford Trophy

2nd Richard Baker

3rd David Clark

Class 3 – Intermediate Hedgelayer

1st Heath Cregan and winner of Bodger John Trophy

2nd Neil Gemmell

3rd Anthony Brown

Class 4 - Open Pairs

1st Richard Hooker and George Pidgeon and winners of The Bartletts (Dorset) Ltd Cup

2nd Simon and Milly Cullingford

3rd Steven and Rosie McCulloch

Class 5 - Novice Pairs

1st Catherine Carter and Theo Derewnick and winners of the Shedbush Farm Trophy

Trophies & Special Prizes

Champion Hedgelayer and winner of the Silver Perpetual Challenge Cup presented by Cleeves & Edwina Palmer – Steve Eldridge

The Philip Hardwill Trophy for highest placed Young Farmer – Reggie Saint & Jack Ferret, Beaminster YFC

 The Russell Woodham Bill Hook Trophy for best hand tool competitor – Catherine Carter and Theo Derewnick

The Bill Hook Trophy for the best Lady competitor – Lydia Lee

Tidiest Kept Site – Simon and Milly Cullingford

 Best work on a poor length of hedge – Heath Cregan

Overall Best Veteran competitor aged 65 years and over – Steve Eldridge

Mechanical Flail Hedge Cutting

1st Richard Rowe

2nd Nick Fooks

3rd Stuart Curtis

The Dorset Young Farmers hedgelaying competition was also judged at the event and the results for this class are below:

Judge: Mr Kevin Goodfellow, Bridport

Chainsaw Steward: Mr Matt Bagwell

1st Owen Swatridge and Logan Hayball

2nd William Fooks and George Goringe

3rd Chloe Caddy and Zoe Raymond