PLANS FOR next year’s Royal Highland Show are full steam ahead, with tickets due to go on sale before Christmas.

The Royal Highland Agricultural Society for Scotland (RHASS) is urging punters to buy early to avoid missing out – with the event likely to be held at a reduced capacity, with priority given to members and early ticket holders.

With a lot of focus around the future of their flagship event, RHASS was keen to remind the public of its wider charity remit and the important role it plays in supporting rural Scotland – which it said can often be overshadowed by the Royal Highland Show.

In the past four weeks, the ‘Save Your Show’ campaign has received over £70,000 in donations from more than 300 members and the society plans to now run the next phase of the campaign by reaching out to wider stakeholders to give them an opportunity to support the society in the uncertain year ahead.

Read more - Royal Highland Show needs your help

“We are committed to putting a show on in 2021 but are conscious that numbers will be nowhere near the 200,000 that there has been before and costs will be higher,” RHASS chief executive Alan Laidlaw told The SF.

“We are going to lose £2.5m this year and there is nothing we can do about it, but there is not a stone being unturned in terms of opportunities to get revenue from other places,” he continued.

“We received £200,000 from the Scottish Government’s ‘Pivotal Enterprises Resilience Fund’ and have benefited substantially from the furlough scheme.

“We have had to cut our cloth accordingly and have made significant cuts to our staff team in events but are absolutely committed to our core show team who are the muscle memory of what the show is about.”

Responding to recent questions around high paid members of staff, he said: “Our whole senior team took a wage cut early on but we need them all to run an event business which organises over 200 events outside the Royal Highland Show.

“The society is doing everything it can to protect itself. We want to celebrate the show but also ensure money keeps flowing in to rural Scotland through our charity remit.”He added that the only way the show would go ahead as normal would be in the event of vaccine success and revealed that currently the team is looking at five different scenarios for the show to take place.

“We are looking at a variety of different models which would accommodate different numbers,” Mr Laidlaw continued. “The food hall is not going to be able to be as tight as it has been in the past and we will have to rethink sampling and tasting.

“The livestock side are likely to see the least changes, bar a bit more spacing around the main rings and stands. However we won’t be able to have the same crowds awaiting judge’s results.”

Read more - Cheers!...Here's to next year's RHS

Mr Laidlaw pointed out that come the spring, RHASS would know more in terms of the progress of the virus and what approach to move ahead.

He said by no means should people be hanging about to make decisions on what beasts they are preparing for the event adding ‘crack on with your show team and give yourself the best chance.’

Applications for trade stands won’t be open this November but RHASS hopes for this to open in the turn of the new year.

Addressing the unfortunate timing of the new members pavilion he said: “We have delivered a brand spanking new pavilion for £5m, on time and on budget, but we got the keys from the contractor days before Boris Johnson put us in full lockdown.”

Although events are on hold for the months ahead Mr Laidlaw said to watch this space as Ingliston has some exciting prospects in the pipeline.