View from the Society: Reaping the benefits of new exhibition hall

Yorkshire Agricultural Society's new exhibition hall. Picture by Gary Longbottom.
Yorkshire Agricultural Society's new exhibition hall. Picture by Gary Longbottom.
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Winning the Exhibition News Award for Best Venue in the UK was a very exciting moment for us all here at the Yorkshire Agricultural Society in Harrogate.

To be presented with this prestigious national award in front of some 350 event organisers from across the country at a ceremony in London really helped to raise the profile of the Yorkshire Event Centre to a key audience.

Picture by Gary Longbottom.

Picture by Gary Longbottom.

But this award was also a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society; in making such a significant investment and hitting the right note with it.

The £11 million refurbishment of the Yorkshire Event Centre is the biggest investment for the Society to date and what it shows is a real confidence in the conferencing and events market while also growing our capacity to generate important funds for the charity itself. This is a real unique selling point for the Yorkshire Event Centre because all profits raised from events held here, go back into funding the work of the Society.

It is also an attractive asset for clients who choose the Yorkshire Event Centre as it helps achieve their Corporate Social Responsibility commitments.

From the feed back we have had since the newly refurbished centre opened almost a year ago, our clients have told us that they also like the centre’s contemporary feel, because the space is so versatile, and the fact we can offer free parking – this is Yorkshire after all and who wants to pay to park!?

Heather Parry, managing director of the Yorkshire Event Centre, pulls a red ribbon with the Bishop of Leeds, Rev Nick Baines, to officially open the new exhibition hall last year.

Heather Parry, managing director of the Yorkshire Event Centre, pulls a red ribbon with the Bishop of Leeds, Rev Nick Baines, to officially open the new exhibition hall last year.

The stunning views across the Crimple Valley is also a winner and the fact that six million people live within an hour’s drive of the venue always means that events are well attended.

The building has many sustainable features from the plethora of solar panels on its roof through to the automatic lights and push taps, which have been warmly welcomed and make a positive difference to the environment. Even the loos impress as the toilet doors are made from recycled plastic bottles – colourful and environmentally friendly too.

Since we launched Hall 1 in June last year we have been blessed with a wide variety of new events from glamorous awards dinners for as many as 1,200 guests, right the way through to large corporate conferences and a plethora of exhibitions, both consumer and trade.

From my perspective, it is always amazing to see the change of events and how the space is used by regular clients such as the Spring and Autumn Flower Show to a Christmas party for more than 1,000 guests – variety truly is the spice of life.

View of the hall's front entrance.

View of the hall's front entrance.

To measure exactly what difference the venue has made in the last 12 months, the Society is planning to carry out an Economic Impact Assessment which will give us an indication of how it has made an impact on the local economy - from recruiting extra staff here to driving extra custom to hotels, bed and breakfasts, taxis and restaurants in the local area. What I can measure even without that research it how this has been a thoroughly exciting 12 months and we are looking forward to continued success for the Yorkshire Events Centre, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society and, of course, for Yorkshire as a whole.

Next up at Yorkshire Event Centre is the Northern Shooting Show on both days this weekend, followed by Yorkshire Antiques and Art Fair on May 20-21 and The Building Trades Show on May 24-25.

Heather Parry is the managing director of the Yorkshire Event Centre in Harrogate.