By Bill Gray, chairman of RHASS

This would have been my first show as RHASS chairman and it goes without saying that I was hugely looking forward to it – and desperately disappointed that it is not happening.

We had some great plans – the show was going to be a spectacular mix of the much-loved familiar elements with some exciting new initiatives that would have demonstrated RHASS’ commitment to driving innovation across what is one of the UK’s most prestigious agricultural shows.

The decision to cancel and the stark reality of what this would mean for RHASS, for the industry, for the directors and staff and, of course, our members and sponsors has been well documented. There is little point in going over this again, except to reiterate my and the whole team’s sadness that the correct decision had been made.

Moving on, we have taken the best of what the show is – a platform to engage, entertain, educate and demonstrate the best in food, farming and rural life – and brought that to life online.

Essentially, the showground is 120 acres of the finest in food, livestock, trade stands, music, entertainment, rural crafts and traditional skills. We’ve worked hard to create a virtual space which will give a reminder of what we have enjoyed for the last 60 years at Ingliston.

Tune into our social media channels and relive great memories, spot familiar faces, and mark in your diary the dates of next year’s show!

I have heard from many members over the last few weeks and, without exception, what they will miss most is not meeting their friends ‘at the usual place and usual time’.

No matter how hard we try in a virtual format, we cannot replicate the social aspect of the four days at Ingliston. This will be sorely lacking, so we are asking each one of our show visitors to pick up the phone and call five friends they would normally catch up with at the show ... and make a date for next year.

I believe that the positivity that this will generate will be felt far and wide.

One of our charitable activities – and some will say the most important – is the connection we make with the end users of our primary produce. From speaking to the producers in the food hall, to chatting to the farmer, to seeing the care and attention our livestock receive from the breeders, all helps to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of our industry.

To that end, RHET’s Virtual Discovery Centre will feature a show extravaganza – make sure to get your little farmers to log in and experience some of the great initiatives they have planned.

There has never been a better time to reinforce what we, as farmers, producers and the wider industry, do for 365 days of the year. While we usually showcase it during the four days of the Royal Highland Show, sadly this year we won’t be able to.

We are, however, looking at ways in which we can replicate that over the coming months.

Do stay in touch either online, through our website, or by picking up the phone to your local RHASS director. We are here to support you at this time so let us know how best we can do this.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay connected and stay farming.

Bill Gray