Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates.

Read more


ASAO conference HRH
Pictures: Richard Austin
Tel: 07831 566005


More than 120 agricultural show organisers, from right across the UK have arrived at Southampton in Hampshire this weekend for a superb programme of expert talks, lively group discussions and even a spot of Ceilidh dancing.

Organised by the Association of Shows & Agricultural Organisations and hosted this year by The New Forest & Hampshire County Show, the 62nd annual ASAO Conference takes place at the prestigious Hilton Hotel, Ageas Bowl (home of Hampshire County Cricket), from today, Sunday 11th, through to Tuesday 13th November.

Each year, the event brings together ASAO members to share their ideas for content and marketing, showcase industry suppliers and services, learn about the latest policies, trends and developments and discuss shared issues.

HRH The Countess of Wessex, Patron of the New Forest & Hampshire County Show, is attending the Conference and will meet delegates.

She will present COWPAT (The Countess of Wessex Perpetual Annual Trophy) to the winner of the Great Ideas Forum competition – designed to encourage Show organisers to put forward their time-saving or money-saving innovations for events.

This year’s Conference programme features a prestigious line-up of internationally-recognised speakers including Graeme Cooke, Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer for DEFRA, who will give a department update, Dr. Sarah MacCurtain, Co-Director of the Strategic Healthcare Management Research Group at the University of Limerick, who’ll be considering how Show teams might cope with the pressures of Show build, and Breyton Milford, Operations Manager at the Cape of Good Hope Agricultural Society who’ll be speaking on the subject of ‘standing out from the crowd’.

Paul Hooper, OBE, Secretary of the ASAO will give an update on the Association’s current activity.

Denis Dooley, Show Secretary for The New Forest & Hampshire County Show said: “The ASAO Conference is renowned as a thought-provoking conference where those responsible for delivering the UK’s finest one-day and multi-day farming and countryside events, come together to hear about the latest developments in the Shows industry, exchange ideas and innovations, collaborate to tackle universal challenges and forge new partnerships.

It’s also a hub of information, a forum for discussion on current topics and a real meeting of minds – vital to the continued evolution and improvement of Britain’s farming and countryside events.

2018 delegates can look forward to a number of inspiring papers to include:

• Keeping events safe in the modern world
• Using technology to improve events
• Attracting new audiences in the 21st century
• Involving the next generation
• Inspiring and educating future generations
• Education at Shows – where are we going?

Mr. Dooley continued: “With 6 million people visiting agricultural and country shows in the UK each and every year, it is crucial that each of our Shows delivers a place to trade commercially, a valuable learning experience for all ages, a venue for industry dialogue and debate, and a source of visitor entertainment. This is how they will continue to grow and flourish and remain relevant in the future.”

Aside from the business of Show Business, delegates can enjoy the Ageas Bowl (home of Hampshire Cricket) and its facilities, sample a delicious three-course Indian meal from the Ageas Bowl’s very own curry house ‘Sanjha’, and take part in a fun quiz run by Quiz Fest, on Sunday 11th November.

Then on Monday 12th, there’s a Black-Tie Gala Dinner, created using locally sourced ingredients from across Hampshire, followed by a Ceilidh Dance with London’s fantastic ‘Licence to Ceilidh’.

Editor’s Notes:
The ASAO works hard to encourage and share best practice between agricultural societies and related organisations.

It is consulted and included in regular discussions with a number of consultative bodies including breed societies, charity commissioners, DEFRA, Health and Safety Executive and Police and Trading Standards. www.asao.co.uk

Additional Information:

2018 Speakers

Graeme Cooke, Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, DEFRA
Graeme is an experienced veterinarian and has worked in a variety of clinical practice types with extensive experience in both rural and urban communities. He is currently also a trustee of an international animal welfare charity and was appointed Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer in January 2017.

Breyton Milford, Operations Manager at the Cape of Good Hope Agricultural Society
Breyton is responsible for the Marketing and Communications Department of the Society, and works with all the Agricultural Commodity organisations, the rural Agriculture Shows in the Western Cape, the Agriculture schools in the Western Cape, and the breed societies in South Africa.
He assists with all the agricultural events that the Society hosts.

Jonathan Crocker, Chief Commercial Officer, Ageas Bowl & Rob Griffiths, Marketing Manager, Paultons Park
Both Jonathan and Rob will be sharing their experiences in running large multi-national event centres to give delegates an insight into how they can improve not only their Show but build out-of-Show demand for their venues.

Dr Sarah MacCurtain, University of Limerick
Dr Sarah MacCurtain is Co-Director of the Strategic Healthcare Management Research Group. She received her PhD from Aston Business School in 2005. She teaches Organizational Behaviour at the University of Limerick and has been Course Director of the MSc in HRM. Continuing research interests in include top management teams, trust and organizational performance, bullying, employee stress and well-being, organisational climate and innovation

Bobbie Harvey, LEAF Education
Before she started working for FACE Bobbie was deputy warden at an educational farm near Sheffield and worked for the Peak District National Park Education Service. With degrees in Fine Art and Environmental Science she enjoys being able to combine her interests whilst working for FACE and in her freelance work as an artist and in environmental education. Her spare time is spent riding her pony, looking after a small flock of Jacob sheep and many different creative projects. Bobbie has established a wide network of farmers and teachers in her region and is well known for the creative projects she develops to help foster a wider understanding of countryside topics in schools.

Miss Lynsey Martin, National Federation of Young Farmers
Lynsey Martin, 29, is a member of Ashford and District Young Farmers’ Club (YFC) in Kent. She was elected Chairman of Council by members at the Council meeting on 18 February in Coventry. Lynsey is a self-employed livestock worker and wants more young people to consider
the career opportunities available to them in the agricultural sector.

This media release has been prepared by glasshousecommunications on behalf of its client, the ASAO.