ABOUT 2,400 primary schoolchildren from more than 50 schools took part in the Connect with the Countryside event.

It was at the South of England Showground in Ardingly and showcased the very best of British agriculture and the countryside.

Each year, more than 100 volunteers from the South of England Agricultural Society and 50 organisations and exhibitors give their time and support free.

Four special zones were livestock, horticulture and food and two devoted to wildlife and recreation.

The Sheep Show drew huge crowds with its educational live stage show about sheep and wool featuring nine breeds and dancing sheep.

There was also a Pony Club display, birds of prey demonstration and countryside crafts, including making corn dollies.

Luke Richards and Charlene Robertson, teachers from Carden Primary School in Brighton, said: “Our school has been to the Connect with the Countryside day for several years and we are impressed with how they can get in touch with the source of their food and find out about where it comes from.

“We will be taking back some ideas to our school too, as we keep chickens, have an orchard and grow our own veg among other things.”

John Cumming, a teacher from St. John the Baptist CE Primary School near Horsham said: “It’s amazing for children to experience these great, hands-on activities and to learn about the world around us.”

Reverend Mark Betson, chairman of the society’s education committee, praised the scheme.

He said:“This day is a fantastic opportunity for schoolchildren to become excited about what the countryside offers, from food to recreation and everything in between.

“We’re blessed with volunteers and experts who are here to peak the imagination of those who may one day go into a career in agriculture and horticulture and we are once again delighted to host the children, to share our knowledge with them and to nurture their interest in all things countryside.”

Jim Glover, High Sherriff of Surrey, said: “Today I have seen more than 2,000 young people becoming inspired.

“I am delighted that they have all had this great opportunity and am so grateful to the South of England Agricultural Society for opening this up to children from Surrey and the rest of the Southern region.”

The society’s aims are to showcase agriculture and the countryside through annual shows and to serve the rural community by providing educational grants, awards, bursaries and scholarships.

It was founded in 1967.