New Society President follows in Family Footsteps

The new President of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, Lord Middleton, has taken office for 2016/17, in the closing ceremony of the 158th Great Yorkshire Show.

NB: Image available to download at bottom of release

As England’s premier agricultural event drew to a close, Lord Middleton received the staff of office from the outgoing President, Mrs Sarah York, following in the footsteps of a host of illustrious names including members of the Royal family. There is also a strong family tradition as Lord Middleton’s great grandfather, grandfather and father held the post in 1899, 1936 and 1976.

The Yorkshire Agricultural Society is a charity and is best known as the organiser of the annual farming and rural showcase and its autumn event, Countryside Live.  However, year round it supports and promotes agriculture and the countryside through awards, scholarships through its organisations which include Future Farmers of Yorkshire.

Lord Middleton is a Director of Birdsall Estates near Malton, a traditional family business,  with let farms and housing. Some 7,000 acres is farmed in hand, mainly on the Yorkshire Wolds. The enterprise includes wheat, barley, vining peas and oil seed rape and an area is also let for growing seed potatoes.  Birdsall Estate has a stabiliser suckler cow herd, selling the offspring for breeding or as fatstock. It runs a commercial shoot and events at Birdsall House. In recognition of the commitment to conservation as well as modern farming practices, the estate was chosen as the winner of the Tye Trophy Award in 2008. It is home to a colony of rare bats and four sites of special scientific interest and has been in High Level Stewardship for nine years.

During his year of office Lord Middleton will represent the Society at events both at the 250-acre showground and around the region, preside at meetings as well as providing guidance and support to the Society’s Board of Trustees.


27 July 2016

Media contact: Judy Thompson, PR Manager, Yorkshire Agricultural Society – 01423 546215 or

The Yorkshire Agricultural Society, Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate, N. Yorkshire

The Yorkshire Agricultural Society was established in 1837 with the primary purpose of holding an agricultural show and for the furtherance and support of farming in the region. This ethos continues today, through its flagship events, the Great Yorkshire Show (Tues 11 – Thurs 13 July 2017) and Countryside Live, (Sat 22 and Sun 23 October 2016). 

Year round it has an active programme of events and activities supporting the farming and rural communities, particularly in the North of England. These include its Future Farmers of Yorkshire group, the Farmer-Scientist Network, the Yorkshire Rural Support Network and an extensive range of education activities aimed at increasing young people’s knowledge of the important role British farmers play in producing our food and managing the landscape.

In 2009, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society established Fodder, the award-winning regional food shop and café and the Society’s commercial activities are carried out through the Yorkshire Event Centre and Pavilions of Harrogate which run a broad range of events from the Great Yorkshire Showground. For more information see

Birdsall Estate

Originally a 12th century Nottinghamshire family, the Willoughbys came to Birdsall in the 18th century and have lived and farmed there ever since. Birdsall House was built by the then Sotheby family after the dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540.

Thomas Willoughby married the heiress daughter in 1719 and the Willoughby family has lived there since. Architectural changes and additions to the house have been made over the years, including work by the celebrated Victorian architect, Anthony Salvin. The estate has a keen emphasis on maintaining and enhancing the environment through efficient and sympathetic farming.


About Us

The Yorkshire Agricultural Society was formed in 1837 and is a charity dedicated to supporting the farming industry and rural life. Best known for staging the annual Great Yorkshire Show, England's Premier Agricultural event and Countryside Live, it's sister event. The value of the support it provides to regional farming and countryside initiatives has risen year on year to nearly £1m. The 2016 Great Yorkshire Show runs from Tuesday 12 – Thursday 14 July and Countryside Live is on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 October 2016. Both take place at the Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate, North Yorkshire and are flagship events for agriculture and rural life. The Society plays a key role in supporting rural life, through grants, sponsorships and has a very active education department which runs a wide range of activities aimed at increasing the knowledge of young people and their teachers about the important role farmers play in producing our food and caring for the landscape. An important date on the annual calendar is the annual Countryside Days event when thousands of primary school children use the showground as a resource for learning. In June 2009, the Society also opened its Regional Agricultural Centre at the showground which will be a focus for excellence for the industry, as well as the new home of the Society. Yorkshire Event Centre Limited (YEC) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Society and all YEC’s profits go to fund its charitable work. Who's Who in the Yorkshire Agricultural SocietyChairman: Simon TheakstonPresident: Sarah YorkPresident Elect: Lord MiddletonChief Executive: Nigel Pulling