Past year one of the most challenging in RUAS history, AGM told

Last year was one of the most challenging in the history of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society, members have been told at the AGM today.

John Martin, Chairman of the Finance Committee reported that for the financial year, the Society has returned a deficit from ordinary activities of £925,695, which compares with the deficit of £983,959 in the previous year. The Society incurred a net cash outflow from operating activities of £121,211 compared to an outflow of £608,979 in the previous year.

The third Royal Ulster Premier Beef & Lamb Championships, in association with principal sponsor Bank of Ireland, took place on Tuesday 24th November 2020. Unfortunately, the Society could not welcome visitors to the Show and Sale due to the prevailing COVID-19 restrictions. It was noted that the event was an excellent show, and all stock exhibited were of a high standard.

With the increasing prevalence of COVID-19 and mounting safety concerns, the Society took the difficult decision to cancel the Winter Fair for the first time in the event’s history. With the support of Danske Bank, online competitions were initiated to celebrate the past Winter Fair prize winners.

At its meeting in December 2020, the Council decided to move the 152nd Balmoral Show from its traditional May dates to September 2021. Extensive planning and engagement with regulatory and government bodies were required to ensure that the Balmoral Show could proceed safely and within the parameters of the COVID-19 regulations. Livestock exhibitors in all sections well supported the Show. Of note, it was a record year in the ever-popular Poultry Section with 706 entries in the poultry pigeons & eggs classes.

Members were told that the Society is navigating a path through a very challenging period in the history of this Society and continues to monitor this ever-evolving situation and the associated risks.

“The Society plans to deliver a full schedule of agricultural events for the next financial year and beyond. Prudent financial and operational plans for these events are reviewed regularly with the ability to flex budgets and revise operational activities to ensure that the Society delivers safe and compliant events going forward. However, members should recognise the impact the pandemic has had on the finances of the Society, which has not benefited from the targeted financial support provided to a number of Royal Shows in Great Britain,” he said.

The following 24 members were elected as members of the Council for a period of three years: Gareth Armstrong, Stewart Baxter, Andrew Bingham, Libby Clarke, James Coburn, David Cunningham, Nigel Hamill, Robin Irvine, Caroline Jebb, Judith Lyons, Charles Mark, David Mark, John Mercer, Dr Charlotte Moore, Peter Morrow, John Murphy, Joanne McKibben, John McMordie, The Hon Mrs Celia O’Neill, John B Robinson, Stefan Smyth, Vanda Stewart, Patricia Swandel, David L Thompson.