Champions class to be a highlight at Balmoral Show

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RUAS chief executive Colin McDonald has confirmed that a full schedule of livestock competition events has been organised for the inaugural Saturday of Balmoral Show.

This year marks the trial rolling out of a new four-day format with Saturday, May 13, ear marked as the date which will see Balmoral enter a new phase in its development.

“A highlight of the Saturday schedule will be the new Champion of Champions class,” said Mr McDonald.

“This will see the champion animals across the dairy, beef and equine sections coming into the show ring together. A well-known celebrity will help out with the judging on the day.”

Mr McDonald also confirmed that the parade of champions moves from the Friday to the Saturday. He is also confident that there will be no drop-off in breeders and their stock, prior to the final day.

“I fully recognise the commitment expected of breeders to keep their animals in the showgrounds for four days,” he said.

“However, we have a number of arrangements in place, which should make life that little bit easier for breeders while they are on-site.”

Mr McDonald confirmed that developments at the Balmoral Maze site continue apace.

“The Eikon Centre is now fully operational,” he said.

“The pace of further investment at the Maze will be dictated by the uptake rate for the housing development now ongoing at the back of the King’s Hall site in Belfast.

“The sale of the new houses, currently under construction, will generate the money required to fund the business plan for the Maze.”

Mr McDonald was speaking against the backdrop of the society’s annual general meeting for 2016. The event saw Coleraine farmer Cyril Milar elected as RUAS president for a two-year term. Speaking in his capacity as chairman of the Finance Committee, he said that the year just past had been one of sustained progress.

In the financial year to 31st October 2016 the Society returned net outgoing resources of £499,000. This compares with the surplus of £2.85 million in the previous year. The variance reflects the revenue receipt structure from the residential development and the relocation of the events business to the Eikon Exhibition Centre at Balmoral Park. The position is better than anticipated in the Society’s financial projections for this transitional period.

The assets of the Society are valued at £22.5 million. The tangible fixed assets additions during the year amounted to just over £1.0 million including expenditure of some £750,000 on the completion and fit out of the Eikon Exhibition Centre. The Society expensed £2.66 million on charitable activities including support costs. These activities generated total revenues of £2.39 million resulting in a deficit of some £270,000.

The core charitable activities of the Society remain the delivery of its agri-events. In December 2015 the 30th Royal Ulster Winter Fair, in association with Danske Bank, was held in the Eikon Exhibition Centre for the first time. An exceptionally high standard of livestock was presented for competition and the demand for trade space at a record high.

The Society held its 148th Balmoral Show during May 2016. The footprint of the Show expanded to enable an increase in the number of trade exhibitors including a significant presence from the plant and machinery sector. A focus of the 2016 Balmoral Show was the celebration of the NI Year of Food and Drink.

The Society is the sole shareholder of the King’s Hall Exhibition and Conference Centre. The company hosted a diverse portfolio of events at Balmoral Park. Event organisers who relocated from the King’s Hall Complex reported increased visitor and exhibitor numbers as the events flourish at the new Eikon Exhibition Centre which is ideally positioned to attract an all island audience.

During the financial year the Society’s second subsidiary, King’s Hall Harberton Estates Limited oversaw the completion of fifteen houses at the Harberton BT9 residential development. Future development at Balmoral Park will be phased in line with the receipts from the residential development