The secretary of Northumberland County Show, Gaynor Scandle, has taken the first steps towards creating a more secure future for the region’s local agricultural shows and events.
Gaynor has volunteered her time, experience and connections to lead a support network for those involved in the management of similar events across the region.
With the support of the show’s management committee, she hopes to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, commercial information and best practice to benefit others.
The group will be part of the Association of Shows and Agricultural Organisations (ASAO), a nationwide charity set up to support, educate and promote agriculture, horticulture and rural affairs through events and shows.
It boasts an illustrious membership including the Yorkshire, Highland and big Royal shows, Burghley Horse Trials and numerous game fairs, food festivals and horticultural shows around the country.
Gaynor said: “In my role at the County Show, I attend national ASAO meetings which provide me with an invaluable source of information.
“However, I’ve noticed that there are very few smaller shows from our area that are members. The ASAO region we are part of extends from Humberside to Berwick, so it doesn’t have a strong local feel.
“I decided to set up a North Eastern group to bridge that gap.”
After a preliminary meeting to establish interest in the venture, Gaynor welcomed nearly 20 representatives from agricultural shows across Northumberland and County Durham at the first North East ASAO get-together at the end of November.
Delegates came from as far afield as Wolsingham, Allendale, Alwinton and Glendale shows.
Gaynor explained that she was aware that many small shows struggle with a range of issues from health and safety, insurance, marketing and finance to weather-related problems, without realising that these are problems common to most rural events.
The discussions that followed confirmed this was the case, and individuals were given the opportunity to share their issues, as well as hear how the County Show approaches its annual advertising, with a talk by PR professional Sue Thompson.
Gaynor advised shows with expensive equipment in storage to hire it out to fellow organisers who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford to purchase it.
The mood was upbeat, and the attendees expressed their thanks to Gaynor for taking on the role.
Nick Hargreaves of Glendale Show said: “It’s just what we need. It’s important for all of us to stick together and help each other out.
“As a group we are stronger and better informed, and can make collective buying agreements with our suppliers. Financially it makes great sense, but also knowing you have someone to ask for help is very reassuring.”
Gaynor concluded: “I want to give something back to the agricultural community that I’ve been part of all of my life.
“Hopefully, this group will help strengthen and protect the future of the dozens of fantastic shows that celebrate our North Eastern rural heritage.”
The next meeting of the North East ASAO is scheduled for March. If you, or someone you know, would like to be involved, contact Gaynor Scandle on 01434 604216, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.