Jimmy Warnock, chairman of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, reflects on his first year as chairman during another successful year for RHASS.

'What a year we’ve had and how privileged I am to have spent it as chairman of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS).

On reflection, 2018 has been a year of ambition, education and resilience.


It is without doubt that the clear skies over Ingliston helped make the 178th Royal Highland Show one to remember, and which I was proud to enjoy as my first as chairman of RHASS.

The atmosphere was electric, with the sound of pipe bands ringing out across the showground and children cheering as the sheep shearing competition got underway.

We celebrated Scotland’s Year of the Young People in style at RHASS, this year, with various activities, awards and grants giving young people the opportunity to step onto the first rung of the ladder and move into a career within the agriculture industry

Our Lothians' Presidential Initiative, Jobfarm, was launched at this year’s show with an aim of making young people aware of the wide range of skills and jobs rural Scotland has to offer. Their work will no doubt inspire more of our young people to begin a career within the industry.

It’s only when you stand back that you can fully appreciate the extensive range of jobs and opportunities that this sector offers.

The Year of Young People might be coming to an end, but the ambition of the next generation will continue for years to come and I sincerely hope we can continue to attract new talent to bring new thoughts and enthusiasm for the future.


The talent, knowledge and quality showcased at the Royal Highland Show never fails to astound me.

The Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) – the society’s affiliated education charity – had a busy time teaching nearly 7000 schoolchildren where their food comes from in the Discovery Centre.

The show is all about you and your family and no matter what your age, the Royal Highland Show guarantees to educate, excite and entertain. Plans for next year’s show are well underway and I look forward to seeing all of you under the same clear blue skies, enjoying a main ring buzzing with unique superstar performances.

It is often said that the places you go and the people you meet leave lasting memories and I am a firm believer that travel broadens the mind. This year, the society found new ways to give younger voices a platform, through projects such as our ongoing association with the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs (SAYFC) and the Roy Watherston Memorial Trust.

The grants that RHASS and our partners provide allow people to experience things they might not have had the opportunity to. We’re proud to throw our support behind the next generation and help our industry thrive as we learn new things and are given new ways to tackle any problem.


A topic in our industry that just can’t be overlooked – the extreme weather we faced throughout the year. Temperatures plummeted in March and summer brought some of the hottest and driest days on record in Scotland.

But, despite the snow, rain, hail and sun, and the impacts to land, our resilience continued to shine through.

These extremes were not without their challenges for our farmers and RHASS worked hard to ensure they had somewhere to turn if they were in need of help. We continued our support of the Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RSABI) to allow them to continue with their helpline that provides invaluable support for farmers who are struggling with the pressures of the industry.

We were part of the sponsorship for Doug Avery’s phenomenal and inspirational tour earlier this year, which more than 2000 people had the pleasure of attending, focussed on the idea of extremes and the fact that there are some things in life we can’t control. Doug spoke openly and honestly about his struggles with his mental health following many problems in his life and work.

Importantly for RHASS, 2019 will see the start of construction of our new members' facility, and with political changes looming on the horizon, there’s a lot for us to keep our eye on as we head into the new year.

Farming will continue to be a constantly changing and evolving industry. By making sure you are adaptable, you will be able to follow these changes as they happen. Let’s make 2019 the year you branch out from your comfort zone and tackle these changes head-on.

As I reflect on my first year as RHASS chairman, I come away even more inspired and motivated to see our industry succeed. I am fortunate to be surrounded by energetic and inspirational staff whose expertise and enthusiasm drive me onwards and upwards.

We’ve proven our incredible resilience and innovation over the centuries and I am in no doubt that this will continue to fuel our ambitions as we go from strength to strength.