The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) has appointed Alan Laidlaw as its new chief executive.
Mr Laidlaw, 38, currently works as the head of property at the Crown Estate in Scotland. He is expected to start his new role later this summer.
He will be tasked with promoting and protecting the interests of land-based industries on behalf of the society’s 15,000 members.
He will also oversee a £20million investment plan in the 280-acre Royal Highland Centre site at Ingliston, which stages the four-day Royal Highland Show and various other events throughout the year.
Mr Laidlaw, who hails from East Lothian, said: “As a lifetime RHASS member and regular show-goer, I am deeply honoured and excited at the prospect of playing a pivotal role in the society’s future. Attending the show this year will be of even greater significance and it will be an ideal opportunity for me to look at the show with fresh eyes before I take the reigns officially at the end of the summer.”
He said he was particularly looking forward to working with the board of the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) to “create a food literate generation” through the charity’s extensive outdoor learning programme.
RHASS chairman, Willie Gill, welcomed the appointment and said: “Alan’s commercial, business and property experience, combined with his obvious passion for the success of Scotland’s rural economy, makes him an ideal candidate for this position. He impressed us with his understanding and appreciation of the society’s aims and objectives and gave us every comfort that he has the skills and drive to deliver our charitable aims.”
Prior to working at the Crown Estate, Mr Laidlaw worked for Bank of Scotland, NatWest and Smiths Gore. He is an associate of the Royal Agricultural Societies, a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and its Scottish rural professional group, and a director of the Oxford Farming Conference.
He has previously contributed to Scottish Government working groups on community ownership and new entrant opportunities on public land.
He is described as a “family man with a keen interest in the outdoors, rugby and the countryside.”
Mr Laidlaw replaces Stephen Hutt who left the society in April this year to take up the role of chief financial officer at Perth-based hydro energy developer Green Highland Renewables.