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Royal approval for the occasional faux pas

It’s not every day you see someone in a position of responsibility own up to the mother of all workplace gaffes.

But, thanks to some good old fashioned honesty, a healthy dose of humility and rather a lot of Royal intervention, show organisers around the UK are being encouraged to come clean and spill the beans about their best career bloomers.

The aptly named COWPAT Award is the brainchild of Association of Agricultural Show & Organisations’ Patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO.

It is awarded each year to the Show Organiser who has committed the most spectacular faux pas of the season.

It sprung into life when Denis Dooley, Show Secretary of the New Forest and Hampshire County Show was accompanying the Countess on a tour of the event, forgot that the programme timing was running over and proudly introduced the animals in the Show Ring as native New Forest Ponies, when they were in fact donkeys.

The Countess was quick to point out his mistake and thus emerged the COWPAT Award.

Since then, Britain’s accommodating event organisers have obliged with similar very public howlers, and both Ollie Allen (Devon County Show) and Carolyn Branton (Mid-Devon Show) are now proud recipients of the ‘Royal’ accolade.

Said Paul Hooper, Secretary of the ASAO: “Amongst the crisp rosettes and gleaming medals, the podium presentations and the glowing media reports, there is always an embarrassing blooper to remind us that we’re human and sometimes get it spectacularly wrong.

The Countess of Wessex’s Annual Trophy dispenses with the tradition of recognising excellence, and celebrates the glaring hum dingers of human effort instead!”

The COWPAT Award 2016 will be presented at the ASAO’s 60th annual November Conference, ‘Jam On Top’, which takes place from 6th – 8th November at the Imperial Hotel, Torquay. Nominations are being invited now.

Criteria for nomination, or self-nomination which is equally welcomed, is simple; anything that happened which shouldn’t have, or conversely, anything which didn’t happen but should have, causing embarrassment to those concerned.

It can occur either before, during or after an event.

Said Paul: “We hope that instead of burying their boo-boos beneath the straw, our members – or at least their colleagues – will come forward and share them with the world.

Show people have a wonderful sense of humour and so I am confident that once again they will come up trumps.”

The deadline for entries is Monday 3rd October. Nominees (or those nominating them) should send a short paragraph describing the faux pas, and marked for the attention of Mr. P. Hooper OBE, via e-mail: info@asao.co.uk or by post: ASAO, PO Box 1201, Wincanton, Somerset. BA9 8YD.

For more information and/or interview/photographic opportunities, please contact:
Sharon Gilbert

Telephone: 01684 311463
Mobile: 07563 663543
E-mail: sharon@glasshousecommunications.co.uk

Picture caption: HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO with Denis Dooley. Show Secretary of the New Forest and Hampshire County Show.