Volvo Construction Equipment proves its products aren’t just for grownups at the Tractor Ted annual farm show at Longleat, England.
It was a glorious day at Longleat House in Wiltshire, England. Set in 900 acres of magnificent landscaped parkland, the Elizabethan Estate resembles something from the pages of a Jane Austen novel. But on this particular weekend in early July, the grounds were transformed into a farmyard, with livestock, machinery and marquees, as part of the annual Tractor Ted farm show.
The family show is a chance to teach kids about caring for the environment and enables them to see real farm animals and machinery up close. And the weekend was full of farm action with digger displays, animal enclosures and stands selling award winning local foods and rural produce.
One of the most popular attractions was a Volvo sponsored enclosure with eight toy Volvo excavators supplied by Volvo CE UK. Children enjoyed pretending to be mini machine operators by using the replica Volvos to ‘excavate’ brightly coloured balls and transport them into buckets.
Children could also take a tractor and trailer ride around the Longleat Estate to see all kinds of modern farm machinery, including the latest in combine harvesters and backhoe loaders.
The event, now in its second year, is run by Alexandra Heard and David Horler – the creators of children’s character Tractor Ted. The innovative duo came up with the idea for Tractor Ted, a talking tractor which lives in ‘Tractorland’ and teaches children about growing food, caring for animals and the cycles of life, via a range of books and DVDs.
“Tractor Ted shows children what they love about farming and the countryside – big tractors and diggers; skipping lambs and grunting pigs – all in real life with lots of fun, songs and games,” says Alexandra Heard. “The idea for Tractor Ted came from my children,” she continues. “When my three youngsters were toddlers, car journeys would be delayed, as we would have to stop en- route if we saw machines working in fields. The children could sit and watch them for hours. So the idea of Tractor Ted began to form in my mind,” Alexandra explains.
“Not only do children love watching real life machines and animals but they can learn valuable lessons about caring for the countryside, where healthy food comes from and the fun of the outdoors,” she continues. “It’s every parent’s dream to be able to inform and entertain their children.”
Trusted farming friend, and business partner, David Horler helped Alexandra’s idea to become a reality by using his family’s farm – and his farming colleagues help – for the filming and pictures. “All the farms, people and animals you see in the films and books belong to real people doing the real work. The Tractor Ted books, films and toys are all created in converted stables and barns on the farm and sent to customers all over the World,” says David.
Now with 11 DVDs, five books, and a range of clothes and toys, Tractor Ted is a busy enterprise.
Children between the ages of six months to six years played in the Volvo sponsored enclosure at the show. One of these children belonged to Bill Law, Director of External Communications for Volvo Construction Equipment, who attended the event with his family. “Days like this are great for the whole family,” he says. “Volvo is very happy to support Tractor Ted in this event because we share the same values about environmental care – and it's wonderful to see children getting so much enjoyment from our range of mini, mini, construction machines.”
Alexandra was also happy with the partnership at the show. “It has been great to have Volvo’s support at this event,” she says. “The kids have loved the little excavators and it helps to have a big brand such as Volvo as a sponsor.”
Approximately 7,000 people visited the show over the weekend and gave a very positive response. Graham Chiswick travelled several hours from London with his grandchildren to attend the event. “My little grandsons are obsessed with construction equipment and tractors,” he says. “If there is any machinery around, they want to sit on it and play with it. It fascinates them,” he adds. “I think this is a great event for teaching children about nature and the countryside – and when you come from a city, this is even more important.”
Text: Clare Gittins
Longleat House is widely regarded as one of the best examples of high Elizabethan architecture in Britain. The landscaped parkland was designed by Capability Brown – a famous C18th English landscape architect – and has a further surrounding 8000 acres of woodland, lakes and farmland. It is now home to the 7th Marquess of Bath.
For more information about Tractor Ted visit: http://www.tractorland.co.uk/