Fringe Box



Fears Raised for Future of Surrey County Show But ‘There is No Question of Administration’

Published on: 19 Jun, 2022
Updated on: 18 Jun, 2022

By Hugh Coakley

The Surrey County Show has been cancelled for a third year running, but reports that the show organisers, Surrey County Agricultural Society (SCAS), was about to go into administration were denied by show’s chair Jonathan Thompson.

He said: “The society is up and running and there is no question of administration.”

Animal show competitions have been a popular part of the Surrey County Show. Spectators gathered around to watch the shire horses (2019).

But the future of the popular annual, one-day event itself, which has attracted up to 40,000 people and costs in the region of £250,000 to stage, was less certain.

One well-placed source told The Dragon they doubted whether there would be a show next year.

Show jumping has always been a popular feature at the Surrey County Show (2019).

A statement from the SCAS trustees on its website failed to offer assurances on the show’s future, saying: “The society is a registered charity and the last year, without any meaningful proceeds from a previous show, has been about paying close attention to securing a future for the society and its members.”

And in further evidence of uncertainty, a well-known society which prominently exhibited each year at the show said they had removed their equipment from the show’s warehouse in Stoke Park as a precaution to avoid it getting lost in potential administration bureaucracy.

The Surrey County Show isn’t just rural pursuits but entertainment as well. The Action Sports Bike Team thrilled the crowd (2019).

But in an interview with The Dragon (Monday, June 13) Mr Thompson was more positive about the future. He said: “There will be a show going forward but what it will look like, we don’t know.

“The SCAS advisory board is looking at what shape the society will be and at the show iteslf.

“The show is an old concept and we have an open mind on the form of the show for next year. Even pre-pandemic, we were changing the format including the number of animals showing.”

Signs for where the Surrey County Show action was to be found (2019).

The Dragon put to Mr Thompson that people had been uncertain whether the 2022 show, first held in 1954 and usually on spring bank holiday Monday, was cancelled, proceeding or had been moved to later in the year. He said the SCAS members had been kept informed about the decision to cancel but “we possibly didn’t do a public announcement”.

He denied there had been friction on the cancellation of the 2022 show within the board of trustees, led by the society’s president Peter Gordon up to the end of 2021 when his term of office came to an end.

A traditional bowler-hatted judge inspecting the rare breed pigs (2019).

Mr Thompson said it had tried as late as January this year to put on a show but had questioned whether it could run a “viable show with confidence. We are risk-averse”.

He said there were currently no paid staff employed by SCAS; there had been three staff pre-pandemic who had organised the society’s shows and activities. “We are purely a voluntary body now.”

Screenshot of the Surrey County Show website (June 17 2022).

Mr Thompson, who had been chair for two years, said he was expecting to stand down this year. He said he felt positive about the society saying it played an important part in the agricultural life of the county. He said it was there to promote the best in Surrey agriculture and farming and that continued.

The full, undated statement on the SCAS website reads: “The Trustees of the Surrey County Agricultural Society – which runs the Surrey County Show – are disappointed that this year’s show, once again, will be unable to take place due to the continuing pandemic and the challenges that it has presented.

“The Society is a registered charity and the last year, without any meaningful proceeds from a previous show, has been about paying close attention to securing a future for the Society and its members.

“We are passionate about continuing our support for farming and the agricultural community in Surrey and we continue to look at how we may be able to work on that passion going forward.

“The discussions about the future continue, but we hope to be able to update further in the coming weeks and months as the national roadmap out of lockdown continues.”

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