So, what do we do for the rest of the year?
Daren Bowyer, CEO of the Society, gives us a glimpse into post-show life in the Showground Office and how plans are very much well under way for the 2017 Show.
So what does happen post-show?
If I had a pound for every time someone asks me that I could take the team to the pub! Most people understand that an event the scale and complexity of the Royal County of Berkshire Show doesn’t happen overnight but many still wonder exactly what we do the rest of the year. In truth, it is a little bit quieter and more gently paced in the office over the winter, but still plenty to do. Of course, almost before one Show is finished, Laura, our Show Manager is beginning to make plans for the next. We take on board the interests and views of the following year’s President and Chairman and start looking at the ways we can deliver them. We gather feedback both from visitors and crucially from all the volunteers through the section heads at the 'wash-up' meeting and look at how we can put right those things that didn’t quite work and build on those that did; and we start pulling together publications like the Exhibitors Manual. This goes out in January so we can start taking trade stand bookings.
For me and the finance team, the main focus in the Autumn is preparing our year-end accounts and getting ready for Audit. Before we break for Christmas the accounts need to be ready and I need to draft the annual report so it can all be signed-off by the Board in early January in plenty of time for the AGM, and to be filed with Companies house and the Charity Commission – not glamorous stuff but time consuming and essential.
It is also over the quieter period that we start preparing our communications plan for the coming year. Jo is busy looking at marketing options and costs for the Communications Committee, while I’m developing the overall budget so we know what we can spend. The Showground committee take a long hard look at the Showground so we can prioritise the available money for refurbishment and development. The membership committee, along with the Chairman and President put together the programme of Members Events for the coming year, so we can put these out in the Spring Herald Newsletter. And Jan, our Educational ‘Lady with a Van’ never really stops her amazing roadshow of all things farming to the counties’ schools.
Early in the New Year I start contacting sponsors to seek renewal of their support, make approaches to potential new sponsors, or follow up on leads from others – especially the On Farm Competitions Committee who are particularly active in this area. As livestock and equine sections decide what classes they will run, Rachael, our Entries Secretary is busy pulling together the schedules, and approaching potential judges.
And as the New Year progresses, Susan and I are finalising contracts for this year’s lettings – a most important part of our financial strategy.
No two days at the Showground are ever the same and there are very few dull ones. Two days of the year might be our highlight of the year but there’s plenty to do on most of the others, too!