‘Amazing’ show nets surplus as organisers gear up for 2020 event
PUBLISHED: 13:41 14 February 2020 | UPDATED: 07:49 17 February 2020
Members of the Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA) gathered at Ipswich's Trinity Park - the home of the show - for their annual general meeting on Tuesday (February 11) to be given good news about last year's performance and the general robust health of their organisation.
"It has been a good year - all the key areas performed well," said treasurer Simon Tucker.
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As well as show success, Trinity Park Events Ltd - the SAA's commercial events arm - moved into profit which was "very welcome", he added.
Overall show income was up to nearly £1.64m compared to £1.59m in 2018, with show donations and sponsorship at a record £262k - up from £245k the previous year. But costs also rose to £1.09m - a rise of nearly £86k - which meant the surplus was slightly down from £580k in 2018 to £545k in 2019.
"With warm, sunny weather for the two days, the Suffolk Show was a resounding success with crowds in excess of 90,000 again," a trustees' report said.
Although there was a slight drop in membership of the SAA, there were encouraging signs that more younger members were joining - a key target for trustees.
Charitable spending was up by 6.3% to £3.3m, and there was a small increase in staffing levels, leading to a rise in costs, SAA members were told.
"Having had a good year in 2019, we are looking to a small surplus for 2020," said Mr Tucker. "We are looking again for TPEL to make a profit - for the first quarter we are on track."
Show organisers are investing in new show software - its main capital spend for 2020.
Singer Ed Sheeran's Ipswich concert last year also helped to boost the charity's coffers, as TPEL took on catering and parking roles for the huge event.
And chairman David Nunn said it had been another "amazing" Suffolk Show.
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"It has been an extremely exciting year for the Suffolk Agricultural Association," he said. "This show continues to evolve with every director bringing new ideas."
Weather, inevitably, played an important part in its success, and outgoing show director Bee Kemball's three years at the helm had been blessed with good weather, he said. "That's certainly an awful lot of luck if you have got the weather behind you," he said.
He added that TPEL had had an "excellent year" with its Christmas parties and the Ed Sheeran concert.
"In life you make your own luck and the team went out and got that and it made us an awful lot of money," he said.
The board continued to look at reinvestment in the site, with attention turning to the showground's toilet blocks, some of which will be rebuilt.
Bill Kemball, voted in as the 2020 president, said he felt "very, very honoured" to be chosen. "I'm particularly proud to be following my late father who was president many years ago."
David Barker, who was voted in as president-elect, was nominated by Mr Kemball, who praised his work in promoting conservation-minded farming methods.
"The thing that sticks in my mind that David has demonstrated is good conservation can work hand in hand with good techniques," he said. "David has been passionate about conservation in modern farming, and the SAA and all it stands for."
Mr Barker said he was "absolutely thrilled". "It's a huge honour and a great privilege, and obviously I think the family deserves it as much as I do."
Vice chairman Peter Over praised Bee Kemball's three "outstanding" years in charge of the show. "If you don't have passion for the Suffolk Show, it won't work," he said. "Bee is a natural leader."
Ms Kemball praised the steward volunteers as "the most amazing set of people". While it all looked seamless on the day, there were many challenges she said. "Trust me, the swan analogy is very apt."
Bruce Kerr, who takes on his first show this May, thanked her for letting him be her deputy and "giving me a massive insight into the show and all that goes on behind it".
"It's truly incredible the amount of work that goes on," he said. "Bee, you have been an amazing tutor."