Lady Tollemache is new SAA president

GARDEN designer Lady Tollemache was elected president of Suffolk Agricultural Association at its annual general meeting, held yesterday. Lady Tollemache, who takes over from the Right Reverend Richard Lewis, former Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, in the role, said it was “an enormous honour”.

GARDEN designer Lady Tollemache was elected president of Suffolk Agricultural Association at its annual general meeting, held yesterday.

Lady Tollemache, who takes over from the Right Reverend Richard Lewis, former Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, in the role, said it was “an enormous honour”.

“You are your own person, you have your own style. You'll be a superb president,” said Bishop Richard.

“I know I shall have a very fulfilling and exciting year which I shall enormously enjoy,” said Lady Tollemache, who came from a farming family in Staffordshire.

“It's fascinating, and a chance to meet so many interesting and enthusiastic people working for the good of the show and the Suffolk Agricultural Association.”

She said it was “a tall order” to follow in Bishop Richard's footsteps, but said they would have a “very positive” Suffolk Show next year.

Most Read

Farmer Mike Hollingsworth, a show director in 1998, 1999 and 2000, was voted in as president-elect. Mr Hollingsworth, 67, who runs a mixed arable farm at Falkenham, near Felixstowe, started out helping at the show picking up litter in 1956 and later rose through the ranks of the association.

“I feel very privileged to have been asked,” he said.

In his report to members, chairman David Barclay praised Bishop Richard, saying he had been “a wonderful president”.

“We have been lucky to have you,” he said.

Bishop Richard said: “I have to say I have loved every minute of it.” He added that it was “an extraordinary privilege” to get to see behind the scenes.

Mr Barclay said the show had taken a loss after the numbers attending were 12,000 down on expectation as heavy rainfall brought down a three inch deluge in the run-up to the event. This meant a £120,000 shortfall against budget. They had not met some “very aggressive” budgetary targets for Trinity Park Events Ltd, which is looking at making the most of their facilities for other functions to bring in extra income, he added. In its first year of trading, TPEL recorded a loss of £89,000.

Members heard the association made “a significant” trading loss of £273,000, but were “extremely fortunate” to have significant reserves.

“I think we have had a pretty good year in many respects. It's just disappointing that doesn't come through in the bottom line,” he said.

“I think we are still a very strong association. We can afford to have the odd bad year so long as the reasons for it are properly understood and properly managed.”

Although the weather had played a role in the downturn in Suffolk Show numbers, they were looking at what they could do to increase them, he said.

They were also looking at “making the most” of the nearly 300 acre site at Trinity Park, much of which was lying idle most of the year, he told members.

They were looking at the possibility of building a hotel at the site, he said.

“We are looking at partners who may wish to come in and help with that,” he said.

He added that they were looking at the planning potential of the showground, and said Suffolk Coastal District Council had been “very, very supportive” of what they were trying to achieve.