19 July 2002

UNPAID WORKERS PLAY KEY ROLE IN THE RUNNING OF THE SHOW

Unpaid workers are

essential to the smooth

running of a show like the

Royal Welsh. Some make

considerable sacrifices

TRADE stand holders, sponsors and those who pay at the gate are all important, but the Royal Welsh Show could not survive without its unpaid workers.

Many only give up their time for a week in July, but those who serve on committees contribute very much more. One of these is honorary show director Harry Fetherstonhaugh, who also serves as vice-chairman of the societys board of management.

He makes the 240-mile round trip from his Clwyd home up to 75 days a year, which puts enormous pressure on his wife Davina, and workers on the 388ha (960-acre) Coedcoch Estate that he farms in hand.

Stocking includes 2400 ewes and 250 cattle owned by other people. He also has 242ha (598 acres) of managed woodland and leases out four farms and two smallholdings.

He was a game trader in the north of England before taking over the estate in 1978, without stock or machinery. That was the year he also started stewarding at the show, continuing a long family association with the event.

He became an assistant honorary director in the early 1990s, and this is his 11th year in overall charge. He works with a team of 12 assistant directors and 987 voluntary stewards. A typical show day starts at 6.30am with meetings with the police, voluntary security stewards and those responsible for car parking. It seldom ends before 1.30am and he does not leave the ground for a week.

Mr Fetherstonhaugh carries ultimate responsibility for ensuring that each section operates efficiently and according to its timetable, especially the main ring. When there is a Royal visit he has to arrange that everyone is "in the right place at the right time".

"I have the privilege of working with the Royal Welshs superb team of professional staff and a great bunch of voluntary supporters. Together they make the society and its events, especially the July show, such a huge success."

Challenge

So why does he sacrifice so much of his time, and see less than he would like of his young sons Archie and Ivor? One reason is the challenge of being a key player in a major business, which incidentally also happens to be the premier shop window for Welsh rural life.

"The Royal Welsh Show is still 60% agricultural, but 60% of those who attend are urban-based. All of us involved have a marvellous opportunity to tell those the truth about what farming and rural life are all about."

That belief, and the fact that he absolutely loves the show, made it worthwhile to struggle to cope with the extra work involved this year to run full livestock classes.

"I am staggered at the way exhibitors have supported the event and I am confident that we will be back with a bang."