Sir, – I feel compelled to write in response to the constant criticism of RHASS, its directors and in some unacceptable cases, its staff, via letters and social posts from members and others who purport to support the Royal Highland Show.

Constant references to the demise of the Show – in particular those that compare it to the loss of the Royal Show, at Stoneleigh, threatens to cause irreparable damage not only to the Society but also to the Board of Directors who, it must be stressed, voluntarily give up their time to deliver all that RHASS stands for, including an outstanding Royal Highland Show.

These same directors, who bring vast knowledge of proven experience, along with a committed and excellent staff team have, with prudent and courageous decision making, steered the Society and the Show through some of the most difficult times in the RHASS’s history to once again deliver an agricultural showcase which is the envy of so many countries.

Let’s not forget either the fact that it delivers in the region of £85m of economic value to Scotland’s economy.

That there were some problems encountered with operational aspects of this year’s show after a three-year gap is hardly surprising, although many of those were brought about by the same national issue with contracted labour that all events and businesses are facing.

A letter which suggested that the Royal Highland Show will follow the Royal Show due to the state of the toilets and the inconsistency of hot water in the exhibitor showers is, quite frankly, ridiculous. There is no question that these and other issues can be and will be addressed before next year’s show, but will this be the ruination of the show? I think not.

The board understands that changes that were made to certain areas pre-show were not initially universally accepted. In life, changes are necessary to refresh and progress and the society and the show are no different in that respect, but as far as the show is concerned, the net result was a colossus of an event which saw food farming and rural life in Scotland brought back to the fore.

This was in no small part due to the unflinching support from competitors, exhibitors and members who attended, for which we are extremely grateful.

The atmosphere and buzz around the showground were electric and anyone who was ringside, for example, when the overall beef champion was chosen and saw the raw emotion demonstrated by the family when their Charolais bull was awarded the magnificent trophy would never question the value of the show – it is simply priceless.

That emotion and elation and satisfaction was played out across all of the sections – competitive or otherwise – that go to make up this outstanding event.

What will damage the show is not the toilets – that will be forgiven when we get it right next year. It is the constant negativity from some members who, with all due respect, may not understand the level of commitment and effort that directors and staff put in on their behalf.

Those that criticise so harshly simply serve to demoralise those directors and members who do give their time, expertise and feedback for the good of the show because they are invested in its success.

We, of course, value constructive feedback and contrary to the belief of some commentators, the board does listen – evidenced by changes and improvements made over past 5-10 years, without which the success and longevity of the show would have been compromised.

We are all going to face some challenging times post Covid-19 and as the outgoing chair of the society, I implore you to recognise that what is paramount is that we – directors, members and staff – pull together and demonstrate that positivity for the Royal Highland Show will further cement its place right at the heart of rural Scotland’s calendar and ensure that future generations will look back in 200 years’ time as we have done this year and celebrate the continued success of this amazing event.

Bill Gray, Chairman, RHASS.