THE first Royal Three Counties Show - co-incidentally held over the weekend of The Queen's official birthday - is being hailed as a right royal success.

Although some showers have swept across the showground at Malvern, the event has avoided the torrential downpours of last year and today's earlier sunshine put a smile back on the faces of the organisers.

"Visitor numbers look very encouraging," said Ken Nottage, chief executive of the Three Counties Agricultural Society, "and there has been a great atmosphere about the place."

This year's show is the first to be held since the event received its "royal" recognition back in March and Mr Nottage said efforts would be increased to secure a royal visitor for 2014.

"As we are now the Royal Three Counties, this would be the icing in the cake," he added. "We always enquire about the availability of members of the Royal Family, but we will re-double our efforts for next year."

A threatened protest again the Government plans for a badger cull to combat Bovine TB failed to materialise. There were no protestors to greet Environment Minister Owen Paterson during his visit on Friday, while on Saturday only two people dressed as badgers turned up to hand out leaflets at the showground's south gate.

"It was all very polite and peaceful and no trouble at all," said the show's communications manager Sharon Gilbert.

A neighbourhood cider makers from the heart of Worcester beat off stiff competition to take the Best in Worcestershire title at the event's cider show. Former Malvern College student Richard Reynolds, who lives in York Place, Worcester and runs Barbourne Cider from a back room at his home, won the top award with a sweet perry.

"We collect perry pears from wherever we can get them," he said, "so if anyone has any growing in their garden, we would love to hear from them."

Entries at this year's Cider Show were a record and show co-ordinator Peter Mitchell said this demonstrated the increasing popularity of home cider marking, which is a traditional skill in Worcestershire and Herefordshire.

The Best in Herefordshire title went to Woodredding Farm at Much Marcle, while the overall best in show was a medium perry from Bridge Farm Perry of East Coker, near Yeovil.

Nine teams of three riders, one of whom had to be a junior, from local hunts contested the McCartneys' Inter-hunt challenge, a relay against the clock over a course of five fences in the main arena.

After two knockout rounds and an exciting final, victory went to the North Ledbury B team of Lucy Alfrey from Storridge, near Malvern, Wendy Robinson from Castle Frome, near Ledbury and 14-year-old Annabelle Twinberrow from Doddenham, near Broadwas.

Runners-up were the Ledbury Leapers from the Ledbury Hunt and in third place was a team from the Ross Harriers In the Cheese Show Charles Martell and Son from Dymock took the reserve supreme champion award with a washed rind sheep milk organic cheese. The supreme championship went to Daylesford cheese makers from Daylesford in Gloucestershire.

It might not be your average church music, but Worcestershire's busking vicar, the Rev David Sherwin from Martley, entertained visitors to the Church in the Countryside area with well known "hymns" like My Old Man's a Dustman and I do Like to be Beside the Seaside.

Mr Sherwin, who plays guitar, was later joined on piano by Rev Peter Edwards, a curate at Malvern, for a Sunday beer and hymns singalong.