THE chief executive of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society [RWAS] has rubbished resignation rumours and insists he remains committed to the organisation.

Steve Hughson, a former chief superintendent of Dyfed Powys Police, took over as society CEO in May 2013. Rumours had been circulating that he was calling time on his eight-year tenure at the helm, but Mr Hughson insists he remains focused on leading the RWAS out of the pandemic.

“There is no truth in the rumour that I am leaving the society,” Mr Hughson said on Monday, September 6.

“I remain absolutely committed to tackling the ongoing challenge and ensuring the society comes out of the pandemic in a strong position. I am very much looking forward to getting back to normal next year and in particular the 2022 Royal Welsh Show.”

It has been an extremely difficult year for us all, and especially those people working in Wales’ agricultural sector. The society earlier this year decided to postpone the Royal Welsh Show – the jewel in the crown of the RWAS and indeed the UK farming industry – for a second successive year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The show went ahead online for the second straight year, although this year’s Winter Fair will go ahead as normal in Llanelwedd at the end of the year.

After the inevitable cancellation of the 2020 Royal Welsh Show due to Covid-19, it was hoped that the general control on the spread of the virus since the start of 2021, including the positive rollout of the vaccination programme, would have led to the event returning, at least in some guise, this summer.

But show chiefs announced in January, with “deep regret and careful consideration”, that they had decided to cancel for a second successive year. The news came as a bitter blow to the local economy, as well as the thousands of visitors that descend on Builth Wells every July from across Wales and beyond, with Llanafanfawr county councillor David Price describing the Royal Welsh as a “huge part of the social fabric of Mid Wales”.

The showground, and Mr Hughson, have been at the centre of Powys’ fight against the virus, with a mass vaccination centre opening there in January – and delivering jabs to 1,000 Powys residents in its initial few days of operating.

Mr Hughson posted a behind the scenes video on his Twitter page a few days prior to the vaccination centre opening, providing an insight into the scale of the operation on the showground.

“When this gets fully up and running it’s going to make a great impact on this pandemic, which we need to get rid of before we can get events back on the showground,” he had said.

Mr Hughson – a farmer’s son from Newbridge-on-Wye who replaced David Walters as chief executive – joined Dyfed Powys Police from the Metropolitan force in London in 1992.