‘Let’s bring fishing into the spotlight’ – Prince Edward’s final plea as Royal Norfolk Show president

HRH The Earl of Wessex meets students and staff at Easton and Otley College. Picture by SIMON FINLAY

HRH The Earl of Wessex meets students and staff at Easton and Otley College. Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

The Earl of Wessex made a rallying call for greater support of the region's offshore fishermen as he discharged his final duties as president of the Royal Norfolk Show.

Prince Edward spoke at the annual general meeting of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA), an event which marked the end of his 12-month tenure as the organisation's figurehead.

'I know that the association is about promoting land-based economies, but as we move into the area of food and where food comes from, particularly here in Norfolk, this (fishing) is an area where we should extend a hand of welcome,' he said.

'Although it happens on our horizon, no-one seems to be interested in what happens in the fishing industry. It is another trade that should be welcomed; to update people on what it does and to bring it into the spotlight would be no bad thing.'

Prince Edward was applauded for his 'knowledge and enthusiasm' during his presidency, before his responsibilities were officially handed over to his successor Robert Carter, chairman of the RG Carter Group.

The new deputy president, and president-elect for 2016, is Prof David Richardson, vice chancellor of the UEA, who is a member of the governing council of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and a specialist microbiologist.

The AGM heard that last year's Royal Norfolk Show attracted almost 82,000 visitors, a slight reduction from the previous year.

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But finance director Grant Pilcher said this reflected national attendance trends, and the reduced gate receipts were offset by rising income from trade stands, catering concessions, car parking and sponsorship.

He said: 'We had an excellent Royal Norfolk Show, but we were in line with a continued trend in low attendance at other shows across the country.

'2014 will be remembered as a challenging year for agricultural shows – we are not alone in that, but the reputation of the show ensured that income from trade stands and sponsorship remained strong.'

RNAA chairman Sir Nicholas Bacon said business remained at the heart of the show's success: 'It is vitally important that we maintain the quality of everything we do. Many shows have gone on Saturdays, but that changes the dynamic. For a show to be successful, business has got to be done at the show. Business create sponsorship, and sponsorship creates a show where we have got good livestock numbers.'

After the RNAA's meeting at the Norfolk Showground, Prince Edward toured the Norfolk campus of neighbouring Easton and Otley College, chatting to students on agricultural, animal studies, construction and equine courses.