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Great Yorkshire Show Director to Step Down

After a decade at the helm of the Great Yorkshire Show and its sister event, Countryside Live, Bill Cowling is to step down as Show Director.

Bill took on the role in 2005 after around four decades of involvement with the events’ organisers, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society. The 2015 Great Yorkshire Show will be his tenth and last as Director, and the search for the new incumbent begins.

 Bill Cowling, Show Director of Countryside Live and the Great Yorkshire Show

Bill Cowling, Show Director of Countryside Live and the Great Yorkshire Show

Making the announcement, Simon Theakston, Chairman of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society said: “It is impossible to over-state the contribution Bill has made to the Society, not only as our Honorary Show Director but in the 30 years before. He has been a brilliant Show Director guiding the show through a challenging period not only for the country’s economy, but also for the world of agriculture. The fact that the Great Yorkshire Show is now one of the most important of its kind in the UK is a testimony to his success. He now leaves us with the very challenging task of finding a replacement to take on the mantle!”

In addition to his role as Show Director, Bill has served as a Trustee of the Society, on its Executive Committee and chaired its Grants and Education Committee. He continues to be involved in the family farm near Harrogate – his interest in farming and rural life is very much reflected in the Show’s focus on maintaining its agricultural ethos.

In recognition of his services to agriculture, in July at the Great Yorkshire Show, he was made a Deputy Lord-Lieutenant of North Yorkshire.

Born in Leeds, Mr Cowling’s association with the Yorkshire Agricultural Society began in the 1960s when he successfully showed dairy cattle at the Great Yorkshire. In 1978 he commenced stewarding the cattle section, going on to become Chief Cattle Steward in 1995.

Over the years his involvement has encompassed many aspects of the Society’s work. He was elected to the Society’s Council in 1989, and a year later became a member of the Executive Committee.

His interest in livestock is deep rooted. In the early 1960s, he became Secretary of the Livestock Section of what was to become the Northern Counties Livestock Society, which formed the foundation of the show’s autumn event, Countryside Live, launched in 2003.

Aside from the Society, he has a keen interest in modern British paintings, and a love of antiques, jazz, classic cars and caravanning. He has also served on the regional committee of the National Trust and as a member of the BBC’s Regional Audience Council. He is President of the Yorkshire Dry Stone Walling Guild.

Bill and his wife Caroline live at the family farm at Pannal near Harrogate. They have a daughter, two sons and two granddaughters.


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