An appeal for funding to meet the final cost of the new £5 million members’ pavilion to be opened at this year’s Royal Highland Show will be launched by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) next month.
RHASS chief executive Alan Laidlaw told members at the society’s roadshow at Thainstone Centre, near Inverurie, that an additional £1m is still needed to meet the total cost of the building.
“We are asking members, and others in the industry, to consider making a donation or a bequest in their will to help meet the charitable investment which the society is making in the new pavilion,” said Mr Laidlaw.
“Donations can be big or small and all will be given appropriate recognition in the new building.”
The society is, however, believed to be targeting five to 10 wealthy individuals to make major donations and it has been suggested that long-standing life members, who joined the 16,000-member society for a pittance many years back but continue to get free entry to the show, should also be targeted to support the initiative.
“It is an opportunity for the whole agricultural community who enjoy and identify with the show to give something back and free the society’s resources to do more to fulfil its educational and knowledge-transfer role which is enshrined in our constitution,” said Mr Laidlaw.
This will include additional support for the Royal Highland Education Trust which helps educate schoolchildren about food and the ways of the countryside.
Mr Laidlaw said the new members’ pavilion, replacing the now demolished MacRobert Pavilion, was “on track and on budget” and would be officially opened at the 2020 show although a booking had already been taken for a wedding at the end of May.
A considerable investment has also been made on infrastructure in recent years, including £7m on 11km of drains. The Ingliston showground, with extensive exhibition halls, wide open spaces and car parking, is now Scotland’s largest indoor and outdoor venue and a multi-use centre for exhibitions, trade shows, concerts and other events.
“The four-day Highland Show can’t on its own justify the investment we have made in the showground so attracting other events throughout the year is a vital part of the society’s business,” said Mr Laidlaw.
With loss of space due to the expansion of Edinburgh Airport, parking space is becoming tight and greater efforts are being made to encourage visitors to make more use of public transport.
However, Mr Laidlaw said further expansion of the airport was unlikely to happen for many years to come which justified the current investment in the existing showground and the abandonment of tentative plans to move to a new site.