Liquor brand St Maur suspends harvesting in to help Air Festival take flight

William Seymour picks the harvest in Ladies Wood 02

The owners of liquor brand St Maur have agreed to suspend their short annual harvesting season so that this summer’s Midlands Air Festival in Alcester, Warwickshire can go ahead.

Between the end of May and early June each year William and Kelsey, The Earl and Countess of Yarmouth, can be found, along with family and friends, feverishly collecting the blossoms in the Ragley Woodlands, which surround the Ragley Hall parkland in Alcester, where the Air Festival is taking place.

But this year the couple will be allowing for an uncharacteristic interruption to the work following a safety request by show organisers to clear the festival display area during the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend, of June 2nd to 4th.

Trevor Graham, the Director of Aviation for the Midlands Air Festival, said: “The Festival is a very exciting but complex event and public safety is our primary concern. Being able to have safe, designated low flying areas within the Ragley Estate is an important element of the show.

We are grateful for the continued co-operation shown to us from the Earl and Countess of Yarmouth and St Maur who allow us access to their picking forest, which ensures we can continue to stage this stunning event for the people of the Midlands.”

William, who is the eldest son of the Marquess of Hertford, and grew up at Ragley Hall, the family’s seat since the 18th Century, said: “At St Maur we are absolutely delighted to be able to support and facilitate another local success story and a great show, with the Midlands Air Festival, even if it does interrupt our busiest time of year.”

Kelsey added: “Having this event taking place at Ragley would inevitably disrupt our business, but watching this and other different events going on makes you realise how important they are for our local economy and for everyone to be able to enjoy and share the experience.”

“Wild elderflowers are only in bloom for a very short period of time where you can pick good quantities. This is a really important time for us to collect them and process them and make sure we have a good stock of elder-flavoured syrup that we can produce our drink from for the rest of the year. They are best picked early in the morning just as they open which is when they’re at their most fragrant.”

The fourth year of The Midlands Air Festival will see the return of a host of day and night-time air displays across the three days, from helicopters and warbirds to aerial ballet and fast jets, including RAF Aerobatic Team, The Red Arrows. Making its first appearance at the Midlands Air Festival this year, is the mighty Avro Lancaster four engined bomber of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Plus, there will be more than 200 hot air balloons and airships in spectacular displays above Ragley Hall, culminating in the atmospheric balloon Nightglow event and fireworks show.

Celebrating the Jubilee theme this year, there will also be aircraft of the period, classical music used at the Coronation and local 1950’s band, the legendary Uproars.