Rupert joined the Society in January 2015 after nine years with the Somerset Chamber of Commerce and in that time he has led a period of evolution of the Society’s business model. The creation of the Rural Enterprise Centre and the major refurbishment and expansion of the Wessex Pavilion restaurants being particular successes together with the return of live entertainment to the Showering Pavilion after a 20 year break, which brought big names such as Bill Bailey, Boney M and “the Yorkshire Shepherdess”, Amanda Owen to the Showground.
Rupert was also instrumental in promoting a greater emphasis on the promotion of regional food & drink, musical entertainment under the Pilton Big Top and improving the visitor experience while maintaining the agricultural content.
The Society’s charitable objectives have been enhanced by the introduction of the Field to Food education day, the Hills to Levels flood prevention project, the launch of the Somerset Mental Health in Agriculture Group and continued financial support for young people wishing to study agriculture and other land-based disciplines.
Rupert Cox commented:-
“It has been a privilege to lead such an iconic organisation, but the impact which the Covid pandemic is having on the events industry means that this is the right time for me to be exploring other business interests. However, that should not detract from everything that has been achieved in the last six years.. When I joined the Society, I committed to instilling a culture of innovation with the Rural Enterprise Centre being the catalyst to deliver this, and the extensive refurbishment of the Wessex Pavilion means the Society can now deliver a quality catering experience with seven hundred covers over two floors.
I am particularly proud of instigating the Field to Food education day and the memory of the effervescent Ambling Band leading a conga around the usually very formal Council Pavilion at the 2016 Show will stay with me forever. I leave with so many joyous memories of working with such a dedicated team of Trustees and staff colleagues; I wish the Society every success for the future.”
Society Chairman, Robert Drewett added
“We will be very sorry to be saying goodbye to Rupert but, against the backdrop of the impact of Covid, quite understand why he feels that this is the right time to go. Rupert has done much to re-vitalise the way in which we use our assets and the manner in which we promote agriculture and the rural economy through our shows. We are very grateful to him for the contribution that he has made and wish him well in the future.
We will be putting in place plans to appoint Rupert’s successor as Chief Executive once the Covid fog has lifted and the future is looking rather clearer. But in the meantime, we have every confidence in the ability of our Senior Management Team to deliver the programme of shows and other events planned for 2021 and to which we are all looking forward.“