En­tre­pre­neur­ial spir­its hines through to leave me beam­ing with pride af­ter balm oral show

This month: A Bliss­ful Blend

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - News - Byrichard­don­nan, Head­o­ful­ster­bank, North­ernire­land

It’s dif­fi­cult to ex­plain how it feels to be proud of a sec­tor — it’s much eas­ier to show it. As I wel­comed cus­tomers, col­leagues, visi­tors and friends to this year’s Bal­moral Show dur­ing May, I was struck by how re­ward­ing it felt to be show­ing such a hive of ac­tiv­ity as the largest agri­cul­tural show in th­ese parts got un­der way.

In my view, the show is un­matched as a fan­tas­tic ex­am­ple of the pas­sion and com­mit­ment that lo­cal peo­ple give to the agri-food sec­tor, from farm­ers and en­trepreneurs to our largest ex­porters and ma­jor man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­nesses.

This year, it was es­pe­cially im­por­tant to take stock of the valu­able roles farm­ing and food play in our econ­omy as the show cel­e­brated its 150th h year.

Trade and live­stock ex­hibitors alike took time to re­flect on the many achieve­ments and tri­umphs of the in­dus­try and how it has grown and de­vel­oped over the years.

But it is also an im­por­tant time to look ahead. The na­ture of this in­dus­try means that change is al­ways around the cor­ner, ne­ces­si­tat­ing in­no­va­tion and in­ven­tion for those in­volved with agri-food. We have seen count­less ex­am­ples of in­ge­nu­ity over the years and I know from Ul­ster Bank cus­tomers that im­prove­ment con­tin­ues to hap­pen day-and-daily, right across the en­tire in­dus­try.

Look­ing back over the four days at Bal­moral Show, one of the things I took great pride in was the num­ber of Ul­ster Bank cus­tomers rep­re­sented — be they large food man­u­fac­tur­ers, SMES, start-up busi­nesses or farm­ers — who are there to show­case their prod­ucts, pro­duce, equip­ment and an­i­mals.

Bal­moral Show clearly mat­ters to them and is a per­fect op­por­tu­nity to meet with ex­ist­ing and po­ten­tial cus­tomers, en­gage with stake­hold­ers and stay upto-date with trends sweep­ing across the wider in­dus­try.

We recog­nise the show’s im­por­tance and value to our cus­tomers and, while mark­ing our 10th year as principal spon­sor, work hard to en­sure it re­mains a prof­itable ex­pe­ri­ence for them. This is why we pro­vided free stalls in our mar­quee to a se­lec­tion of mi­cro busi­nesses who were ei­ther busi­ness cus­tomers or based in Ul­ster Bank’s Entrepreneur Ac­cel­er­a­tor. Two such com­pa­nies were A Bliss­ful Blend and Bronze Leaf, both self-in­no­vated from a de­sire to cre­ate prod­ucts be­spoke to in­di­vid­ual cir­cum­stances and both a shin­ing ex­am­ple of the en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit we foster in our ac­cel­er­a­tor.

In­deed, there are many shared val­ues be­tween our en­trepreneurs and the farm­ers and in­dus­try lead­ers I had the plea­sure of meet­ing at the show. The two groups are at the heart of lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, both value his­tory, her­itage and fair deal­ing, but are con­stantly hori­zon-scan­ning for the next big op­por­tu­nity and lay­ing the foun­da­tions for a strong and vi­brant econ­omy in the fu­ture.

We’re now in June and the tents have all come down, rosettes hang proudly in barns above cham­pion live­stock and for now, nor­mal­ity has been re­stored to Bal­moral Park, but the suc­cesses and fond mem­o­ries of the 150th Bal­moral Show will live on for many years to come.

Richard Don­nan at Bal­moral Show with Princess Anne

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