THE chief executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society is to retire after more than 20 years in charge.

Nigel Pulling said it was always his aim to take the Great Yorkshire Show 'to a national level' and he was leaving on a high after the society successfully staged the event this year despite having to cope with remaining coronavirus restrictions. He will step down from the role in March, 2022, after overseeing a number of commercial projects across the showground in Harrogate.

These include the building of farm shop and café Fodder, the Regional Agricultural Centre (the society’s HQ) and the multi-million pound rebuild of Hall 1 in the Yorkshire Event Centre.

Mr Pulling joined the society in 2001 when the Great Yorkshire Show was cancelled due to foot-and-mouth disease. This was the first time the show had been cancelled other than for the two World Wars. In 2017, he was given awarded the Associateship of Royal Agricultural Societies (ARAgS) at the House of Lords for outstanding contribution to agriculture.

He noted the similarities between planning for the show in 2002, against a backdrop of strict bio-security controls and regulations regarding foot-and-mouth – which had devastated farming the previous year – and planning for this year’s show given strict Covid regulations. Mr Pulling said: “We overcame the tough challenges on both occasions to deliver successful Great Yorkshire Shows and I couldn’t have ended my tenure on a better show.

“We were devastated to cancel last year and despite the challenges and restrictions placed on this year’s event, it was an incredible achievement for the team. The atmosphere of celebration and enjoyment from both the farming community and visitors was second to none.”

This year the show welcomed a number of high-profile guests, including the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, and George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Mr Pulling said: “It was always my aim to take the Great Yorkshire Show to a national level, to attract Royalty, industry leaders and politicians as well as national publicity to help bang the drum for the farming industry, and I feel we have done and will continue to do just that.”

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“I leave my role on a high, the Great Yorkshire Show is in a strong position ready for next year. Events are returning to the showground after this difficult 18 months, the charitable activities team is stronger than ever before in its support for farming families and promotion of agriculture to the next generation – and I know it will go from strength to strength.”

Meanwhile, the GYS has announced that it will again run the show over four days next year. Traditionally run over three days, it extended to four days as part of its response to the need to comply with Covid-19 restrictions. The society said some of the changes made for the 2021 show had proved very successful and after consultation with members, visitors, plus livestock and trade exhibitors, it had decided to keep them in place.

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This includes running the show over four days, from Tuesday, July 12, to Friday, July 15, 2022. It said there would be a limit on attendance each day to ensure everyone had a relaxed and enjoyable experience and membership numbers would also be capped.

Tickets would be sold in advance only and would go on sale earlier than usual, from Monday, November 1, at