The arrival of Rupert Cox as chief executive of the Royal Bath and West Society has proved most welcome.
On taking charge in January last year Rupert said: “Who would have thought that when I started stewarding in the sheep section of the Bath and West Show as a teenager some 35 years ago, that I would return to lead this iconic and highly regarded institution?”
Who indeed? But the show is now benefitting from the older Rupert’s considerable business experience, wealth of contacts, love of the countryside and likeable personality.
Rupert also comes from an agricultural background and I am delighted to see that under his leadership the Bath and West has regained more of its agricultural show character while enhancing its wider appeal for the whole family.
It offers consumers a rare opportunity to meet the producers of the food they eat – and increase their knowledge of today’s farming industry.
Our farmers need the public’s understanding and support, especially when so many are struggling with commodity prices below the cost of production and the disturbing failure of the Basic Payment Scheme to pay farmers their due in time and without a scary number of errors.
So I am pleased that this year’s Bath and West Show will feature a new, dedicated food and drink area showcasing some of the UK’s finest producers, running in conjunction with the British Cheese Awards and the British Cider Championships.
Visitors will also see more than 4,500 livestock and 2,000 horses, sheep shearing and a display of farming machinery from the past to the latest farming technology.
The Bath and West is the only four-day royal show in the country, with a history dating back to 1852.
This year its evolution continues and 2016 promises to be a show of transformation with changes to both features and layout.
One innovation comes courtesy of Michael Eavis, president of the Royal Bath and West of England Society, and perhaps better known as the founder of the nearby Glastonbury Festival.
Unsurprisingly, Mr Eavis’s addition to the show is a new music area with him sourcing the acts. Music will take place throughout the day and into the early evening, bringing a festival feel to the showground.
My firm, Carter Jonas, will be in the CLA stand at the show and we will be pleased to see you there.