Sir, – With reference to the story in your September 12 edition, 'Royal Highland asks for help', like many others, I am sad to see such a longstanding and vital organisation such as RHASS in financial difficulty, and would be devastated if the Royal Highland Show was to go the same way as the Royal Smithfield and the Royal Show.

However, gauging reaction made online and on social media regarding the story, it is clear there is concern amongst many members and individuals about giving extra money to RHASS, with many feeling they have given enough financial support through membership this year.

Surely the outlay for things such as security, policing, judges' expenses, livestock fodder and temporary staff to assist on the gate will all be drastically reduced, in some cases zero.

A look at the RHASS annual report, dated November 30, 2019, showed that the society has a 'Wages and Salaries Group Cost' of approximately £1.95m each year (including National Insurance and pension contributions) for 48 people employed by the society during 2019. That equates to an average wage of £40,000.

It took 1934 annual subscriptions (less any joining fee) to pay the highest paid employee's salary of £145,000 last year. A further two employees earned more than £100,000 in 2019. Even with the 10-20% wage reduction senior staff have taken, the highest remunerated employee still earns more than any MSP, bar the First Minister.

The society, having spent major investment in a new members' pavilion, now finds itself in the unenviable position of seeing it lie empty for the time being. But should individuals, who are not members of RHASS, be encouraged to donate towards its cost when they are unable to enjoy the members' building itself when it opens?

One idea could be for the RHASS to encourage those of us who are not presently members with an 'associate status', where a small donation could get an individual access to the new pavilion when it fully opens, hopefully in time for the 2021 RHS?

As with all major black swan events, such as the current pandemic, there are opportunities as well as threats. The irony is, the nature of the Covid-19 outbreak means it surely kicks the idea of a new runway at Edinburgh Airport well into the future – if it ever happens at all.

The pandemic will almost certainly not end in 2020, but what if hosting the 2021 show proves to be impossible, due to Covid-19 restrictions? Will there be a further bail out request to members and the wider society next year?

Like many others, I would like to see the show continue. Without it, advertising our industry to the public becomes infinitely harder, an opportunity to educate our children through fantastic initiatives like RHET becomes lost and that's before we even start on the social side of events.

I would urge those in charge to maintain a broad mind with regard to potential cost savings, and ensure a bright future for the Royal Highland Show.

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