12 July 2002

Cash crisis puts future RASE awards in doubt

By Mike Williams

THIS years Royal Show parade of award-winning machinery – an event which, has been in operation for the past 150 years – will be the last unless the Royal Agricultural Society can find a new sponsor to finance the scheme.

The RASE Machinery Awards Scheme uses a panel of farmers and machinery specialists to interview equipment owners and operators each year to select the outstanding entries that receive the gold and silver medal awards. The awards are presented during the Royal Show, earning publicity and prestige for successful manufacturers and importers.

Running costs for the scheme are met by sponsorship, plus a small contribution from the entry fees. Lloyds TSB is said to have paid £10,500 a year to sponsor it, but the firm had decided not to renew the agreement when it ended at last weeks Royal Show. This has effectively put an end to the scheme – efforts to sign up another sponsor to replace Lloyds TSB have so far failed, and finance for the scheme is not available from RASE funds.

"The situation at present is that the Society has no plans to run the Machinery Awards scheme next year," says Angela Lea, the societys head of policy and information. "Our efforts to find another sponsor have not been successful, and at this stage I think it is unlikely that anyone will come forward with an offer of sponsorship.

"But the society is looking at alternative ideas that will replace the Machinery Awards scheme and focus attention on machinery at future Royal Shows – the Tractor Village at this years show was the sort of idea we would like to develop in the future," she says.

If, as seems likely, the cash crisis kills the Machinery Awards, it will be the end of a series of equipment testing and assessment schemes which have been an important part of the RASEs services to the farming industry for more than one-and-a -half centuries. &#42