The former secretary of the Royal Agricultural Association from 1957 until 1987, Albert H Riddle, passed away on Friday 6 March 2015.

Albert was born at Quethiock, near Liskeard, the only son of Harry and Amy Riddle. He grew up with his three sisters and attended Quethiock Church of England School.

As a boy he had an ambition to join the Navy which he did, at only 15 years of age, beginning a naval career which would take him all over the world, placing him in numerous dangerous situations. These included crossing the Atlantic in 1941, whilst World War II raged, on board HMS Prince of Wales. Winston Churchill was aboard and travelling to meet President Roosevelt off Newfoundland.

Albert was still a crew member when, later the same year, as a 17 year old boy sailor, the Prince of Wales together with HMS Repulse were sunk by the Japanese in the South China Sea. He was one of the lucky survivors, spending six hours in the water before being picked up. 60 years later, he laid a wreath at the wreck site, during a very moving commemorative service on board the P & O Flagship ‘Aurora’ whilst on a world cruise with his wife Betty.

After three years away at sea, Albert’s mother recognised him when he returned home to Cornwall on leave in March 1944, but his father didn’t! Later that year, he took part in Operation Swordfish and the D-Day landings whilst serving on HMS Frobisher. He often recalled volunteering for the task of helping clear mines from a field near Arromanches, assuming it was a vital task, only to find that the field was to be used by the army, to play football.

In 1947 he married Nora Hawkins, a farmers’ daughter from Menheniot and their daughter Jane was born exactly one year later. Very sadly, Nora was to die of cancer at the age of 30 in 1953 and, soon after, Albert was released from naval service to care for his young daughter.

On leaving the Navy he applied for a sales post with agricultural feed merchants, Silcocks and, whilst the written exam did not go well, his ability to charm the interview panel secured him the role. He married his beloved second wife Betty Harris, a pharmacist’s daughter from Liskeard, in 1954 and set up home in the town.

After four years as a rep, he was appointed as the first full-time Secretary of the Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association against strong competition from numerous applicants, many of whom were far better known than him. No doubt his experience during the preceding years as Honorary Secretary of Liskeard Show stood him in good stead. The family then moved to Truro, living ‘above the shop’ at the Association’s new offices at Upper Lemon Villas, with their son, Christopher, arriving in 1963.

From 1957 to 1989, Albert was to lead the Association with distinction and see the then itinerant two day show settle on, and successfully develop, its own showground at Wadebridge. Under his leadership, the Royal Cornwall Show’s reputation grew and became well respected far and wide.

Numerous major development projects gradually created a showground of which Cornwall can be justly proud. The show regularly attracted visits by members of the Royal family and other VIP guests.

The event was always organised in great detail but with a view to providing an enjoyable day. In his first year as secretary 25,397 attended the show; more than 30 years later in the year of Albert’s retirement the show’s attendance exceeded 111,000, a then record, over three days.

Albert and Betty led an active social life, thoroughly enjoying dancing and loved to entertain their many friends. Friends and family meant so much to him and he loved to keep in touch by phone, especially with those more distant.

Albert’s wide-ranging involvement with numerous organisations reflected his willingness to assist others. This included being a very long serving Honorary Secretary of the North Cornwall Hunt Point-to-Point, President of the Wadebridge Branch of the RNLI and a dedicated member of the team staging the livestock sections of the prestigious Royal Smithfield Show held in London. He was very pleased to have been made an Honorary Life Member, together with his wife Betty, of the Royal Smithfield Club in recognition of his services. Other interests included the Wadebridge Prime Stock Show Association, Truro South Devon Cattle Club, Wadebridge Farmer’s Club and Threemilestone Young Farmers Club.

On his retirement in 1989, he was delighted to see his son Christopher take over as only the ninth secretary since the original Cornwall Agricultural Society was founded in 1793. He remained closely involved with the running of the show and the showground to the end, and was very proud of the high regard with which the event is regarded. A Cornishman to the core, he will be much missed by his two children, his son-in-law and daughter-in-law, his three grandchildren and two great grandchildren.