175th Anniversary of the
Royal Jersey Agricultural & Horticultural Society
26th August 2008
Speech of the President, Stephen Le Feuvre

Sir Philip, Lady Bailhache, the Dean and Mrs Key, distinguished guests, members of the Society; I am delighted and honoured to welcome so many of you here this evening to mark and to celebrate the 175th "birthday" of the Royal Jersey Agricultural & Horticultural Society.
175 years of tremendous change in our world and for Jersey,
175 years during which our Society has been at the heart of Island life,
175 years where I believe this Society and its members have made a positive difference to how Jersey has evolved.

The Society was ‘born’ at a meeting held on this day in 1833 chaired by the then Lieutenant Governor, Major General William Thornton.

An earlier attempt in 1790 to form an agricultural society in Jersey had failed after several years, but this time it was more successful. The first formal meeting of the new society was held on the 7th September 1833. The aim of the new society was recorded as follows: “to create a spirit of industry and emulation, to offer premiums for the improvement of agriculture, breeding of cattle, improved domestic economy, cleanliness and comfort in cottages, and also for the encouragement of industry and good behaviour among servants and labourers in the employment of members or subscribers of the Society”.
I suggest that whilst we live in a very different world today the spirit of the Society remains true to its founding aims, although perhaps in today’s language we might use words such as ‘quality, best practice & community’.

In December of 1833 King William IV granted His Patronage to the new society, an honour continued by the Monarch to this day.

I should like to thank our Vice Patrons; The Lieutenant Governor, His Excellency, Lieutenant General Ridgway, who is unable to be with us today, the Bailiff of Jersey, Sir Philip Bailhache together with the Dean of Jersey, the Very Reverend Canon Robert Key and record the appreciation of the members for the interest that they show in the Society’s activities. I am delighted to welcome you Sir Philip and Lady Bailhache, the Dean and Mrs Key here this evening.

What has happened in the Society since 1833? In many ways the history of the RJA&HS is closely intertwined with the history of Jersey as to make it inseparable. Many members of the Society went on to become Members of the States of Jersey, and at one time the Council of the Society almost acted as an induction process to political office. Indeed this diversion was such that in 1884 the Rules of the Society stated “all political discussion shall be strictly prohibited, and offenders be fined one pound for the first offence, and expelled from the Society for the second.” These days I am pleased to say that the thoughts and energies of those members elected to serve the Society are far more productively applied to the furtherance of agriculture, horticulture and to promote the Island’s rural culture, to enhance the farmed countryside and encourage the production of local produce.

How can we summarise the history of an organisation such as this and do it justice? Without dwelling on any detail some of the extraordinary achievements must include: Looking forward, the Society will be very active continuing its work of 175 years;
Members will recall at the AGM this year it was agreed that the following message of loyalty be sent to our Patron, HM The Queen. The message read as follows:

    “The President and Members of the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society assembled at it’s Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, 19th March 2008, respectfully beg to tender this expression of their loyalty and affection to Your Majesty’s Crown and Person, and humbly beg to record, on this the One Hundred and Seventy Fifth Anniversary of the Society’s Foundation, that under the Gracious Patronage of Your Majesty and Your Majesty’s Predecessors, the efforts of the Society over the period of One Hundred and Seventy Five Years, and more recently with the success of the Royal Jersey Showground, graciously opened by Your Majesty in the year 2001, have conduced to the welfare and happiness of Your Majesty’s subjects on this Island of Jersey.”

I am delighted and truly honoured to read the following reply:

Finally, I would like to thank everyone assembled here in front of our wonderful headquarters for taking the time to join us for this very special celebration, and I would now like to invite our Vice Patron, the Bailiff, to say a few words.

Thank you …………

(and at the end of the ceremony)

The Toast:
We remember all those who have played such an important part in our history, and commend those of the present and the future to uphold the traditions and standards of this Society.

Members & friends, please raise your glasses in celebration of 175 glorious years of our Society.

“The Society”.

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