Young Farmers descended on Melton Cattle Market last night (Tuesday) to join in their first drive-in Harvest Festival.
Rural Officer for the Diocese of Leicester, Rev'd Canon Peter Hooper, led the service for hundreds of Leicestershire Young Farmers at Melton Mowbray Cattle Market and the event was broadcast live on a local radio station.
The last seven months have been challenging for everyone - not least young people, who have struggled with the lack of socialising and activities available to them.
Throughout lock down, Leicestershire Federation of Young Farmers Clubs has continued to offer virtual events for its 500 rural young people from across the county but thanks to Rev'd Peter, with support from Melton Cattle Market and the local council, they've enjoyed gathering in tractors and cars for their first ever drive-in harvest festival.
The event saw liturgy and thanksgiving interspersed with songs chosen by the Young Farmers and also broadcast live by local radio station 103FM The Eye, so it reached more people than the 100-150 Young Farmers who would normally have gathered for their annual harvest festival in Leicester Cathedral.
The Rev'd Peter Hooper conducts the Harvest Festival in Melton Cattle Market. Photo: Diocese of Leicester.
Revd Peter, who is also Area Dean for the Framland Deanery, said:
"It was a really amazing experience last night and just how blessed we were. Everything worked well and we were about 60 cars in total with an estimated 160 people present. The event was an opportunity for members to give thanks for the harvest and was the first time all the members have been ‘together’ since March."
The visitors in their cars and tractors were able to tune in to local radio station, 103 The Eye, and hear the ceremony broadcast live over the radio.
Emma Lovegrove, County organiser for Leicestershire Young Farmers said:"The last few months have been very challenging for our members, especially those in more rural areas of the county. This service gave them a much needed reason to celebrate and an opportunity come together to give thanks for God for the harvest. The spiritual support our members receive from Revd Peter and the church is so valuable, especially at during the difficult times we are currently facing."
Members were even able to get refreshments from a drive-through snack bar on entry and they brought tinned and long-life food for a collection for the local food bank, Storehouse.
The Young Farmers in white coats in the photo below are those who brought up to the stage the ‘symbols’ of Rural and Farming Life. It is traditional for the Young Farmers when ‘presenting’ something like this to wear a white coat.
Cars and tractors gathered on a slightly raised car park, looking down to a make-shift stage (a farm trailer) with a combine harvester as the backdrop and two tractors either side providing lighting from their headlights, where Rev'd Peter led the service.