Suffolk Show’s new chief executive is ready for the challenge

Nicola Bateman, new chief executive at Suffolk Agricultural Association. At Trinity Park.

Nicola Bateman, new chief executive at Suffolk Agricultural Association. At Trinity Park. - Credit: Gregg Brown

A high-flying events organiser who has worked on projects around the world is set to lead the organisation behind Suffolk's biggest show.

Nicola Bateman is the first woman to become chief executive in the 184-year history of the Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA), whose flagship event is the Suffolk Show.

She brings 18 years of experience in the international events industry to the role, which became vacant after executive director Christopher Bushby decided to step down last year after 20 years at the helm.

And while searching for a new challenge – preferably one closer to home – she said when she was given the job it was as though destiny had knocked at her door.

'It's like a million to one,' she said. 'Where would Suffolk find someone with all my experience when they needed it, and when would I find a job like this at home?

'When I was told about the vacancy at the agricultural association, I knew it was the next challenge for me.

'The Suffolk Show is the most famous show in the county. Everyone has heard of it, even if they haven't attended.

Most Read

'It truly demonstrates the best of Suffolk's culture and traditions and come rain or shine, generations have visited it and enjoyed discovering and being part of what makes Suffolk great.'

Miss Bateman's career has taken her to venues around the world, battling through murky politics, language barriers and any number of other obstacles to put on events of all sizes, ranging from 'bijou' 1,000-delegate events to shows with half a million visitors.

The 42-year-old lives at Tostock, near Bury St Edmunds, with her partner, two stepchildren and her seven-year-old son.

She was accepted for the Suffolk job on the same day as she was presented with an offer of a post on the other side of the world in Sydney.

'Coming to the Suffolk Show absolutely rang bells for me,' she says.

'It's something you want to look after and grow.

'It's really putting Suffolk on the map. I'm Suffolk and proud. Sydney is very glamorous, but I thought: 'Let's do Suffolk,' and it's that challenge as well.'

Robert Rous, chairman of the SAA, said the organisation has entered an exciting phase with the new appointment.

He said: 'The new Trustee Board feels Nicola's extensive experience in the events industry and ability to identify and drive new revenue streams will help raise the Suffolk Show to new heights.'