Public rally to save Royal Highland Show

The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland’s (RHASS) £2 million fundraising appeal is starting to gather momentum with the public.

Saturday, 17th October 2020, 4:47 pm
Packing them in...the 2021 Royal Highland Show will have fewer visitors but RHASS is commited to hosting the event. (Pic: Cameron James Brisbane)

Four weeks since the appeal’s launch, more than £70,000 has been raised to secure the Society’s future and that of the Royal Highland Show (RHS).

This is the first stage of an ongoing fundraising campaign which will include appeal mailings to RHASSS members, followed by a digital campaign targeting past show visitors.

The society’s future, and that of the RHS, was called into question following the substantial loss of income due to mass cancellation of events as a result of the pandemic.

This follows years of investment in the showground infrastructure.

A root and branch review of income and expenditure was instructed by RHASS directors with across-the-board cutbacks implemented, including senior management salary cuts and a significant number of redundancies, mainly across the events team.

RHASS also took part in the furlough scheme and was successful in securing a Scottish Government Resilience Grant.

In an unprecedented step for the society, a £2 million fundraising campaign to raise additional income stream was also launched last month.

Alan Laidlaw, RHASS chief executive, said: “It is the right thing to do: we have a responsibility as a charitable organisation with thousands of supporters and stakeholders to do all in our power to make sure both show and society survive and that we increase our charitable impact for the next generation and for Scotland’s rural industries.”

RHASS is now beginning to prepare for next year’s Royal Highland Show, albeit against a backdrop of reduced visitor capacity and increased costs due to additional social distancing measures.

Alan added: “We are committed to hosting the 2021 Royal Highland Show in whatever capacity we are able to do so, however, we also want to be able to celebrate the 200th show in 2022.

“It is likely that the income generated next year by the show, upon which the society relies, will not reach the level of a normal year.

“This campaign therefore is about much more than 2021; it’s about securing RHASS’ future and the next 200 years of shows.”

Bill Gray, RHASS chairman, said they had been “heartened by the response to the campaign”.

However, he added: “It is early days yet and there is a long road ahead of us.”