Royal Society buoyant after wettest Highland Show

PIC PHIL WILKINSON.'TSPL / JOHNSTON PRESS''ROYAL HIGHLAND SHOW 2012'SUNDAY''HARRIS  HARPER FROM CROOK OF DEVON. STUCK IN THE MUD AT THE SHOW
PIC PHIL WILKINSON.'TSPL / JOHNSTON PRESS''ROYAL HIGHLAND SHOW 2012'SUNDAY''HARRIS HARPER FROM CROOK OF DEVON. STUCK IN THE MUD AT THE SHOW
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TURNOVER and operating ­surplus increased for the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society last year, despite one of the wettest Highland Shows in its 200-year plus history.

The Society posted annual results yesterday revealing that the incessant rain over the four days of the show reduced visitor numbers, with income down £185,000 to £3.5 million.

But this was more than offset by a £500,000 bequest from an anonymous donor.

This helped push turnover to £6.72m in the year ended 30 ­November 2012, up from £6.39m the year before.

Expenditure also rose from £5.27m to £5.39m leaving an operating surplus of £1.33m. The balance sheet of the Society stands at £12.1m.

Speaking after the annual meeting, RHASS chairman Allan Murray referred to the “trials and tribulations” of last year where prolonged spells of bad weather at Highland Show-time had transformed parts of the show field and car parks into boggy marshland.

Society chief executive Stephen Hutt said that considerable efforts and cash had been invested since then in making sure the 2013 event did not ­suffer the same problems.

Several roadways have been created in the main car parks to increase accessibility in wet weather. In addition a significant amount of drainage work has been carried out on the show field.

On car parking, the Society has secured use of a 40-acre former factory site at ­Newbridge, which can accommodate up to 5,000 cars and from which a shuttle service would operate. This contingency plan, said Hutt, could be activated at short notice.

The Society will have access to the RBS car parks at Gogarburn on the Saturday and Sunday of the show. The bank, which is the major sponsor, offered this facility last year and Hutt said it would operate this time round.
 Even although supermarket Morrisons has withdrawn from taking stand space and McDonald’s had reduced its commitment, Hutt was upbeat saying this was no more than the usual “churn” experienced with exhibitors. There was, he claimed, still a waiting-list for trade stands and the show would be full. Livestock entries do not close until the end of this week but Murray declared that these were looking good.

The Society’s original remit included the promotion of education about agriculture and Murray pointed out the Society continued to be the core supporter of the Royal Highland Educational Trust. This link will help bring thousands of school children to this year’s show.