Society grandee Raymond Twiddle steps down

A local businessman who led the transformation of a North Yorkshire events venue into a multi-million pound success story has stepped down after two decades at the helm.

Raymond Twiddle is regarded as one of the most influential figures within the Yorkshire Agricultural Society having chaired the Society’s commercial arm, Yorkshire Event Centre, for the last 20 years.

But he has decided to call time on his service as chairman and stood down from the position at the Society’s recent annual general meeting.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

In recognition of his contribution, Heather Parry, the event centre’s managing director, presented him with a carved and engraved shepherd’s crook, plus a jar of his favourite marmalade from Fodder, the Society’s shop.

James Cooper, a director at Ripon Select Foods who breeds Limousin cattle, has been appointed as Mr Twiddle’s replacement.

Miss Parry said: “Raymond’s immense contribution has been transformational for the Society and YEC. During his tenure, our turnover has gone from £267,000 to £5m we have built our main exhibition venues, Hall 1 and Hall 2, opened Fodder and our caravan park, plus Pavilions is now well and truly on the map.

“Raymond’s razor sharp mind and steely, single-minded determination have been inspirational and we are ideally placed to build on our success.”

During his tenure, Yorkshire Event Centre raised £16m towards the work of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

Mr Twiddle, who lives at Knapton Hall near Malton, and remains a member of the Society’s council, told Country Week: “It was a real challenge. A lot of people said it would never work but I had been a businessman since I was 18 so I knew a thing or two.”

He said he was proud of the new exhibition hall at the Society’s Harrogate showground, and that its completion offered the right time for him to step down.

A distinguished businessman, Mr Twiddle, established Twydale Turkeys in 1956 and is a former vice-chairman and chairman of the British Turkey Federation. In his various role in the sector, he oversaw the expansion of Britain’s turkey industry and was awarded on OBE in 1996.