Swords, tractors and pork rolls at Cathedral Plough Sunday celebration

A major regional service to celebrate farming and pray for the rural economy has been held at Ripon Cathedral.

The annual Plough Sunday service brought together agricultural organisations, charities, civic and community leaders as well as farming families from across North Yorkshire. Among those involved in the service were the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, mayors from across the Harrogate region and leaders of the farming community. 

The Plough Sunday service at Ripon Cathedral has grown year on year. This year the annual celebration of farming and rural life was jointly organised with the Yorkshire Rural Support Network with  collaboration between the cathedral, the Anglican Diocese of Leeds, the four Districts of the Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Church. Yorkshire Young Farmers, Future Farmers of Yorkshire, and Farming Help Charities also took part. A collection was taken for the Farming Community Network (FCN)  a  voluntary organisation that supports farmers and families during difficult times.

Before the service there was an exhibition of farming support and rural charities and organisations, while hot pork rolls, tea and coffee, were served. Both a modern and a vintage tractor and ploughshare stood outside the Cathedral on the west forecourt, and the Highside Longsword Group demonstrated their dancing skills to entertain early arrivals.

[Pictured left: Regional Director of the NFU Adam Bedford , Deputy Mayor of Harrogate, Coun. Pauline Willoughby, Bishop of Huddersfield Jonathan Gibbs,  Mayor of Ripon, Coun. Pauline McHardy and Cannon. Barry Pyke.]

With its emphasis on the realities of farming, speaker at the Plough Sunday service was Adam Bedford (pictured right), North East Regional Director of the National Farmers' Union. He said that though the service goes back to the Middle ages, it was still important and relevant today. “A celebration like Plough Sunday is very important. When we’ve got a period of uncertainty as we have now,  for all organisations and farmers to come together at the beginning of the year to celebrate farming I think is very much required.”

He added, “I think we have a lot to be positive about for the future but I think we need to make sure we are focussing on the new entrants and young people who are coming into agriculture and make sure we are encouraging them.

“I think we all have some responsibility to do that. In Yorkshire we have an excellent industry and a lot of opportunity ahead, but we will only harness that if we all work together – and that for me is really the message this Plough Sunday.”

Leading the service were the Bishop of Huddersfield, Rt. Revd Jonathan Gibbs, and Cathedral Canon Barry Pyke (pictured right). Canon Pyke said that the service has an important role to play.” I think a service like this is really important because it brings together a lot of people from North Yorkshire.

“It’s brought together people from the boroughs, civic dignitaries, as well as famers and those interested in the rural environment and those who minister to the rural areas.

“It’s a good gathering in a communal way to celebrate the life of the countryside, the churches part in that life, and God’s part in our creation.” Watch a film from the day here:


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