After too long a gap since 2019, the Royal Cornwall Show, the county’s (some would say the country’s!) premier agricultural show, returned with a bang from 9-11 June 2022. With attendance of over 120,000 – the highest for seven years – and (mostly) sunny weather, locals and visitors alike breathed a collective sigh of relief as things seemed to be getting ‘back to normal’.
But the past two years have been hard and, recognising that for many, things have not got back to normal, Churches Together in Cornwall decided to rebrand its longstanding refreshment tent this year as ‘Sanctuary’: a place to find rest, and find yourself. Located, as for many years, as Stand 1 in a prime position adjacent to the main gate, the eye-catching new branding drew many to the tent, for tea/coffee and biscuits, a place to sit and chat, and browse the various stands and activities offered by Churches Together and partners. These included a bookstall, Fairtrade stall, prayer corner (including a prayer tree and prayer bear!), children’s activities, and a ‘mini-ring’ of bells for people of all ages to try their hand at ringing.
A team of chaplains was based in the tent, offering prayers on the hour and chatting with those in the tent and across the (very large) showground. The chaplains were commissioned at the traditional Eve-of-Show service, an ecumenical gathering with silver band and worship leader, with the Bishop of Truro preaching, in the main show ring. As traditional, this was followed by a beer and pasty reception in the Tent.
A special feature this year was the dedication of a Book of Remembrance, displayed in the tent for people to write thoughts about the pandemic years, names of those they had lost, and, if they wish, prayers. After the Show the book will tour the county, allowing others to add their comments in churches of all denominations, and eventually finding a permanent home in Truro Cathedral.
The Tent is funded by Churches Together in Cornwall and indvidual denominations, and organised by a dedicated committee much relieved to be back on the road after plans had to be cancelled in 2020 and again in 2021 due to Covid. The new branding, devised by Christian designer Huw Briscoe, was deemed a graet success and we hope Churches Together will be known as a place of Sanctuary within this hugely popular Show for many years to come.