17th November 2018
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Cunningsburgh Show under threat after long-serving treasurer retires

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This year’s Cunningsburgh Show is under threat because the committee has been unable to find a new treasurer to replace Ian Smith who is standing down after 15 years.

Organisers fear Shetland’s biggest agricultural show may have to be cancelled if a new person can’t be found to fill Mr Smith’s shoes.

The Cunningsburgh event is regarded as the highlight in the show calendar, drawing crowds in large numbers from far and wide.

Other officials are also needed to help with routine duties for show day, which is scheduled for 10th August.

The search comes as organisers are left fumbling for ways of matching the six-figure sum approved as part of a European Leader cash injection for improvements at the show ground.

Show president Kathleen Sinclair said even if the show goes ahead, those plans may have to be shelved.

Committee members are due to discuss the issue during an emergency general meeting at the Cunningsburgh Hall on Monday night.

Mrs Sinclair she said ambitious plans to build two new permanent buildings – to replace marquees – may have to be put on hold along with proposals to extend car-parking provision.

“We were trying for funding to do some improvements,” she said.

“You can get Leader funding through the LAG [local action group, which manages leader funds] … but it has to be match-funded. We’re struggling. We got to stage one with a lottery application, but we don’t fit their criteria.

“My view is we’ll have to scale the project down. We own our show field, but we were trying to make life easier by building two additional buildings, and car parking, to improve it.

“We do a little bit every year, so we’ve always been improving, but this was a big project.

“We have two structures but we wanted another two. The marquees are fine but they are so weather dependent for time and skill to get them up and down. It’s just needed to make things easier.

“We’ve made car parking for about 140 cars over the last two years and we want to increase that. We have a bit of land up on the hill that we were going to level and create an area for horses.”

The dilemma comes despite growing success for the show.

Last year it attracted 4,500 visitors, or “20 per cent of the Shetland population”, according to Mrs Sinclair.

“The show has grown over the years,” she said. “It is getting bigger and bigger.”

She insisted the committee was “working in harmony” to find a solution to the problems.

Mr Smith, she said, had been kind enough to volunteer his services on show day to show the new treasurer the ropes, and talk he or she through the duties of the day.

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About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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