The Royal Ulster Agricultural Society returned a deficit of just under £1m in their accounts to October 2020, it was reported at the annual meeting.

The RUAS is organiser of the Balmoral Show and many other events which did not take place in 2020 due to Covid-19

John Martin, Chairman of the Finance Committee, stated that the year to 31st October 2020 has been one of the most turbulent years in the history of the Society, and this is reflected in the financial results presented.

For the financial year, the Society has returned a deficit from ordinary activities of £983,959, which compares with the surplus of £992,534 in the previous year. During the period, the Society incurred a net cash outflow from operating activities of £608,979 compared to an outflow of £339,840 in the previous year.

The Covid-19 pandemic and associated periods of restrictions have resulted in the cancellation of charitable activities in line with the prevailing regulations.

The Society has implemented a range of deficit recovery measures to reduce the financial impact of the pandemic. It said it also re-affirmed the Society's decision to develop the King's Hall site to generate diverse and sustainable funding streams to support the core charitable activities of the Society, which remains the delivery of its agri-events.

The Society recognises its fundamental obligation to protect the health and wellbeing of staff, members, competitors, visitors, volunteers, trade exhibitors, sponsors, contractors and suppliers. The Society, in accordance with its charitable objectives, has confirmed its intention to run agricultural shows in future periods subject to the prevalence of the pandemic and associated restrictions at the time.

"The Society is navigating through a very challenging period. Given the prevailing environment, there has been a considerable impact on the Society and its operations. However, Council is confident that with the efforts of its staff, committees, members, exhibitors and other stakeholders, the organisation can come through the crisis intact and in a position to continue its beneficial work in line with its charitable objectives," it was stated.

At the Annual Meeting, the prestigious President’s Plate was awarded to Council member Libby Clarke, recognising excellence within the agri-sector in Northern Ireland and acknowledges a member who has made a significant contribution to the Society over a period of years.

Libby first joined the Council in 2006, following in her father’s footsteps, serving on several committees and fulfilling many roles, including Judge, Steward and Council member. She is currently Chair of the Cattle Committee and the Beef & Lamb Sub Committee and also sits on the Finance Committee.