Balmoral Show 2024: New RUAS president John Henning on his hopes for this year's show and why he wants to recruit new young members

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​John Henning says he considers it an “absolute honour” to be the 37th president of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS).

​He has been in the role for just over two months but is certainly no stranger to the workings of the RUAS.

He explained: “I have been involved in the society in all sorts of ways for a number of years. I attended my first show in the 1960s. I joined the society in the late 70s.

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“I became a member of council in 1995, so you could say the RUAS has been a big part of my life for a long time. It is an important part of the agricultural industry.

John Henning is the RUAS president for the next two years having been involved in the organisation since the 1970sJohn Henning is the RUAS president for the next two years having been involved in the organisation since the 1970s
John Henning is the RUAS president for the next two years having been involved in the organisation since the 1970s

“There are probably a lot of people don’t fully realise the RUAS organise the Balmoral Show. Part of my job is to create greater awareness of the RUAS and what it does.

“We are certainly very keen to encourage new members to join the society and particularly younger members as they will be the future.”

During his two-year term as RUAS president, this year’s event will be one of two Balmoral Shows Mr Henning will oversee.

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When asked what he will bring to the society John is modest in his approach saying: “I’ll leave history to judge what I have contributed but certainly my involvement with the society over the length of time has been very much about doing a job, getting stuck in, and trying to make the society and its events bigger and better.

“In the case of the Balmoral Show it’s very much about educating and entertaining the public so you bridge that gap between farmer and consumer.

“You could say the Balmoral Show is in the edutainment business where we educate people by entertaining them.

“The topical issues get a good airing during the show as farmers take the opportunity to pass on their thoughts to all they get to meet.

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“Some of the big issues at the minute include the weather. We have had very difficult conditions over a number of months now.

“We had a good spell last week which allowed a lot of work to be started but there is still more to be done.

“There are issues around bovine Tb and how that is still a problem. Fairness in the supply chain is obviously a constant bugbear for farmers.

“The ongoing mental health challenges and rural isolation can be topical issues.

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“By having the show, if we manage to get plenty of farmers attending and get them talking about some of those issues then that has to be a big benefit.

“It is a win-win for the industry and those on the periphery.”

Despite his role as president taking priority this year, John and his family are back in the show ring with their renowned Drumcorn Aberdeen Angus cattle.

“This year will be our 30th consecutive occasion when we have exhibited,” he said.

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“That doesn’t happen very often because there can be all types of reasons why you don’t manage to get.

“We have been very fortunate that we have been able to bring out cattle every year, usually a fairly big team as well.

“We brought the cattle in on Monday and that is my involvement or job done as far as the cattle goes.

“No doubt I’ll be expected to weigh in on Saturday evening and help get them back home again, win or lose.”