Refunds offered to Suffolk Show exhibitors

Suffolk Show organisers are offering a 30% refund to exhibitors after high winds forced it to cancel the second date of the event.

The Suffolk Agricultural Association said it agreed the unprecedented step following the cancellation of the show just 15 minutes after gates opened on Friday, 8 June.

At the same time, it urged people not to let the events of that day overshadow what it described as a highly successful first day.

The association’s constitution mean it is under no obligation to give a refund. But it chose to do so in an effort to retain the goodwill of its loyal exhibitors built up over 181 years.

The decision was made at an extraordinary meeting last week, where it agreed to offer refunds to trade, livestock and equine exhibitors, which account for £440,000 of show income.

“It is vital that we do not lose the goodwill toward us moving forward and we take a long term view to bear the short term pain of the situation in order not to lose this support,” said executive director Christopher Bushby.

“And we did have a very good first day. We are determined as an organisation that the events of that Friday should not cast gloom on what until 7.30am had been a very successful show.”

While final visitor numbers are yet to be confirmed, the past shows have led the association to anticipate that the gate will be between 40,000 and 50,000.

The first day traditionally accounts for 60% of visitors over the two days.

Mr Bushby said the association had taken advice on the position from its lawyers.

While it had no obligation to give a refund, it was legally entitled to give a refund where appropriate to ensure the long-term future of the show.

A letter outlining the association’s offer has been sent to more than 700 businesses.

Tradestand holders can either opt for a cash refund of 30% of the total booking fee or forgo a claim in order to support the association.

In return they will receive recognition in next year’s show catalogue and annual report for their generosity. Applications must be made in writing for the refund by the end of July.

The association has also decided to keep tradestand fees unchanged for next year at the 2012 level for those exhibitors signing up by the end of November.

Soundings have already been taken with several exhibitors, with several saying they would not be claiming a refund.

Neal Sands, managing director of Sands Agricultural Machinery, said:” I hope the decent people on the agricultural side of the Show will realise it was an act of God.

“I won’t be looking for any compensation.”

His sentiment was endorsed by James Tuckwell, of machinery dealers P Tuckwell.

“It would be inappropriate for us to take up the refund,” he said.

“We had a very good first day, the cancellation didn’t make a huge difference to us and we feel it is better to support to the association over the closure.”

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