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New main sponsor for Royal Northern Spring Show at Thainstone

By David Porter

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The traditional close links between the farming communities of the Orkney and Shetland Isles and the north-east will be further cemented with NorthLink Ferries, who ship thousands of cattle and sheep every year from the isles to mainland Scotland, taking on the major sponsorship of the flagship exhibition cattle classes at this year’s Royal Northern Spring Show.

The Royal Northern Agricultural Society's Spring Show heads to Thainstone.
The Royal Northern Agricultural Society's Spring Show heads to Thainstone.

The show, organised by the Royal Northern Agricultural Society, will be held at ANM Group’s Thainstone Centre, Inverurie, on Wednesday, February 26, and is again expected to attract a large entry of top quality beef cattle, as well as prime and breeding sheep, from across North-east and Central Scotland and the northern isles.

“We are delighted that NorthLink Ferries have come on board to support the show and grateful for the sponsorship the company is providing for what many consider to be the most important part of the show,” said president, Keith Walker, Kirkton of Rayne, Inverurie.

North Link Ferries provide the vital link between Orkney and Shetland and the north-east and their efficient service in shipping cattle and sheep and meeting the highest animal welfare standards, is recognised and much appreciated by farmers.”

The company operate three luxurious passenger ferries and two freight ferries which ply between Aberdeen, Scrabster, Stromness, Kirkwall and Lerwick and ship around 2500 cattle and 140,000 sheep a year to the mainland.

“The shipping of livestock is a key sector of our business and we look forward to developing a mutually beneficial partnership with the Royal Northern Agricultural Society by providing sponsorship for the spring show which is one of the most important shows in the Scottish agricultural calendar,” said managing director, Stuart Garrett.

As part of the sponsorship deal, Mr Garrett is keen to encourage more farmers from Orkney and Shetland to attend the show and key members of his staff, including Kirkwall-based freight manager, Kris Bevan, and Aberdeen-based livestock supervisor, Alan Gammie, will be on hand at the show to meet farmers.

Serco Ltd have operated the Northern Isles contract since July, 2012, with modern comfortable vessels which are designed to a high standard, including the choice of two and four-berth en-suite cabins, sleeping pods or reclining seats, and shower facilities to ensure passengers reach their destination refreshed and rejuvenated.

Meals served on board are all prepared using as much locally-sourced produce as possible.

2019 saw the contract carry the equivalent of more than 43,000 commercial road trailers, over 347,000 passengers and some 92,000 cars

The company is currently awaiting confirmation that their tender to provide the service to the isles for a further six years, with a further two years’ option, has been accepted.

Other main sponsors of the show include Grampian Steel Services Ltd (carcase cattle), Turcan Connell (horses and ponies) and Campbell Dallas (show and sale of bulls conducted as part of the show by Aberdeen and Northern Marts).

Next year the show will be celebrating its 175th anniversary and secretary and organiser, Alison Argo, reports that this year’s show is again a sell-out, with all outside and inside stands taken up by trade stand exhibitors all of whom will be looking to do good business as farmers seek to reinvest for the future.

2020 Judges

Cattle and sheep:

Exhibition cattle – Lee Hopwood, Rochdale

Carcase cattle – Michael Wilson, Auchnagatt

Prime hoggs – Norman Douglas, Selkirk

Breeding sheep – Jim Warnock, Lanark

Carcases (cattle and hoggs) – John Davidson, Butcher, Inverurie

Cereals, roots and hay

Cereals – Iain Allan, Inverness

Roots – James Forrester, Cruden Bay

Silage and hay – Gregor Colquhoun, Inverbervie

Horses and ponies:

Clydesdale – David Young, Fife

Shetland, Miniature Shetland and Young Handlers – Ian Spence, Turriff

Highland – Wm Allan, Fife

Mountain and Moorland and Ride and Drive – Lynda Cheyne, Maud

Light legged and veteran – Kim Tedcastle, Huntly

Overall and Young Handlers – Jacqui Lamb, Buckie

Young farmers:

Stockjudging – Bert Alexander, Insch

Carcases – John Davidson

Decorative box of produce – James Forrester

Industrial display – Kelly Paterson, Oyne


SWI – Jane Butterworth, Noranside

Trade stands – Gordon Murray and Rodney Blackhall

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