£70k raised so far to save Royal Highland Show's future

Over £70,000 has been raised in just four weeks since the appeal’s launch
Over £70,000 has been raised in just four weeks since the appeal’s launch

Over £70,000 has been raised out of a target of £2m to ensure the survival of the Royal Highland Show after the pandemic forced this year's cancellation.

Six months since the cancellation of the 2020 show, the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland’s (RHASS) fundraising appeal is gathering momentum.

Over £70,000 has been raised in just four weeks since the appeal’s launch, with RHASS’ members donating to secure the future of the society, and that of the annual show.

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

The society’s future 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 showground infrastructure, including a new multi-million pound members’ area.

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

Taking advantage of government support, RHASS took part in the furlough scheme and were successful in securing a Scottish Government Resilience Grant.

Furthermore, in an unprecedented step for the society, RHASS directors approved a £2 million fundraising campaign in a bid to raise additional income streams.

Chief executive, Alan Laidlaw said the campaign was '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."

With funding being generated by the appeal, RHASS is now beginning to prepare for next year’s show, albeit against a backdrop of reduced visitor capacity and increased costs due to additional social distancing measures.

Mr Laidlaw 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 more than 2021, it’s about securing RHASS’ future and the next 200 years of shows.”

RHASS chairman, Bill Gray said the society had been 'heartened' by the response to the campaign, but it was still early days.

"RHASS Directors thought long and hard before embarking on this appeal, however we are convinced it is the right thing to do. This appeal will not be a one-off.

"In doing so they help the society to promote innovation, to support rural mental health and the next generation, and ultimately to grow RHASS’ charitable activity.“

The society's charitable activities began in 1784 with the founding aim to support and promote Scottish agriculture and rural communities.