After taking the heavy horse entries at the Suffolk Show to new heights, Mark Donsworth will be stepping up to a new role at the event next year.

Mark - who runs agricultural parts retailer MDT of Framlingham - took over the reins as heavy horses head steward from David Nunn in 2010 and has performed the role with gusto ever since.

But next year he will become deputy show director, supporting show director John Taylor who will be presiding over his third and final year. "I'm really looking forward to it," he said.

Shadowing John will be his apprenticeship, ready to take on the top job as show director in 2026.

His deputy, Sophie Bell, takes over as head steward of heavy horses next year and was already effectively taking it on this year, he said, and doing a "great job".

East Anglian Daily Times: Mark Donsworth watching the heavy horses in action at the Suffolk Show

Mark is proud to see his sons, George, 25, and William, 23, also take their place as show stewards - in the pigs ring and sports village respectively. Outside of the the show, Mark is heavily involved in various heavy horse organisations.

"What's wonderful is we see the youngsters coming through and getting the enjoyment out of it. That's what this show is all about - the passion everybody has," he said.

This year, 108 heavy horses descended on the Suffolk Show - which notched up a total of 182 entrants in its various classes. 

Although not quite up to the nearly 200 competition entrants last year, it's an impressive tally and puts the show in the top league for heavy horse competition, he said.

One competitor from Ireland and one from Inverness who were unable to make it this year brought it down slightly from its 2023 high.

"Our exhibitors are so good and so loyal to us," he said. "Other than the Highland Show we are probably rating as the highest entrants on turnout (driving with a cart) classes."

Many shows invited heavy horses in for demonstration purposes only. "But our guys come to compete and that's very important to me," he said.

This year's turnout was "fantastic", he said. "It was a beautiful sight. And in the in-hand classes the Suffolk entries were phenomenal. Some of those classes were just immense."

During show days, Mark bounces out of bed at 4am such is his excitement.

"I just love it - meeting friends you haven't seen for a year - it's quite a unique environment. We are doing so much to encourage the youngsters to come through and the novice side is quite important," he said.

This year newcomers were beginning to take the heavy horses contests by storm, he said. 

Now he is looking forward to the next stage in his Suffolk Show career. 

"I'm brimming with excitement really. I can't wait. I never, never dreamed I would be asked to be director. It's quite humbling too.

"It's a show I'm quite passionate about. I love the tradition. I love the camaraderie - I'm like a four-year-old kid going into a sweetshop going into the Suffolk Show."