'Moving' tributes paid to Queen Elizabeth II as Somerset County Show returns for the second time

The Somerset County Show returned this weekend for the first since 2019. During the two day event, special tributes were paid to the late Her Majesty.

Paul Curtis, event director for Somerset County Show, said careful consideration had to be given to the tone of the weekend.

"We didn't know whether we could, or should, hold the show during the period of national mourning," he said.

"But the Government's advice was to go ahead and we've got certain measures of respect in place. Staff are all wearing armbands, we've got a book of condolence, flags at half mast and there's a minute silence on both days too."

People paid their respects to Her Majesty during a minute's silence held at 3pm on both days. Credit: ITV West Country

The county show, which is at Taunton Racecourse, was first held in 2019. Paul Curtis had hoped to build on its success in the years that followed but those plans were put on hold because of the pandemic.

The show returned for the second time on Saturday (17 September) when the doors opened to the public at 9am.

It is a celebration of rural life in Somerset, from judged competitions to traders selling local produce.

At 3pm each day, a minute's silence was held for the queen. Felix Wheeler, commentator at the Somerset County Show, spoke of the Queen's love of horses.

In his speech, Felix said: "Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was a huge supporter of this country's native breeds both of horses and ponies, particularly of breeds that were in decline.

The show's commentator, Felix Wheeler, spoke of the Queen's love of all things equine. Credit: ITV West Country

"He Majesty successfully bred and showed both Fell ponies and Highland ponies, and her late husband, Prince Philip, won many prizes at events with his famous team of Fells.

"She last rode on her favourite Fell pony Emma in June this year, before departing to Balmoral. So our late Queen was a true horsewoman right to the end."

People could also go and write messages of thanks and share memories of the Queen in a book of condolence.

It was organised by Teresa Hemms, Chair of the Somerset County Federation of Women's Institutes (WI). The Queen herself had been a loyal member of the WI for almost 80 years.

A book of condolence was organised by the Women's Institute, of which the Queen was a dedicated member. Credit: ITV West Country

Teresa Hemms said: "We really wanted people to be able to express their love and devotion and their sympathies to the Queen and her family.

"Her Majesty was a member of the WI in Sandringham, and we feel she was one of us. We truly admire her for all that she's stood for throughout her reign."

An estimated 10,000 people attended the second Somerset County Show, many taking the opportunity to pay their respects to the late Queen.