Wedding gift of a heifer inspires 25-year devotion to Balmoral Show

John Henning will be showing cattle at his 25th consecutive Balmoral Show today
John Henning will be showing cattle at his 25th consecutive Balmoral Show today

After receiving an Aberdeen Angus heifer as a wedding present, John Henning began a proud tradition of showing the famous Scottish breed at Balmoral Show.

As he prepares to present his team of finest Angus at his milestone 25th consecutive show tomorrow, he is eyeing the championship prize that has so far eluded him.

John, 60 – former head of agricultural relations at Danske Bank and a member of Royal Ulster Agricultural Society since 1978 – began the Angus herd along with his wife Ann in 1992 on their farm on the outskirts of Moira.

He recalled how his relationship with Balmoral Show began in the 1960s: “If I’ve counted right my first show I attended was in 1967 with my father, as a treat because I was recovering from the mumps.

“My father was a farmer. He would have come to the show, not every year, but most years, though he never exhibited.

“We were dairy farmers at home. The reason my wife Ann and I started the ‘Drumcorn’ Angus herd in 1992 was because my father-in-law, who was a well known Angus breeder, gave us a heifer as a wedding present.

“She was at the show in 1993 and won a first prize in 1993, 1994 and 1995.

“I’d say a third to half the herd we have now would be descended from that original cow.”

Of his quarter century as an exhibitor at Balmoral Show he said: “I’ve been there ever year since 1993 – for 25 consecutive years – apart from 2001 when there was no show due to foot and mouth disease.

“It’s something that we’re very proud of. There are various challenges which face farmers and mean they can’t come every year – for example TB or not having a team of cattle that you’d want to bring because you don’t get your breeding decisions right every year.

“Over the 25 years we’ve had five reserve championships but we’ve never actually managed the championship. Wouldn’t that be nice in our 25th year?”

The 150th Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank, gets under way today and runs until Saturday at Balmoral Park at the site of the old Maze prison on the outskirts of Lisburn.

It remains Northern Ireland’s largest agrifood event.

Show-goers can download a free Balmoral Show 2018 app on iOS and Android which has all the latest information and up-to-date announcements as well as a site map, stand locater, day planner and ‘Find my Car’ function.

Visitors are encouraged to avail of the public transport options on offer which include a free shuttle bus from Lisburn train station.

Police have advised motorists to leave extra time for their journey in Lisburn and the surrounding area.