The new Great Yorkshire Show director, Rachel Coates, outlined her hopes and aspirations for its future, when she spoke to Wendy Short.

Dairy farmer, Rachel Coates, is poised to take over as show director of the Great Yorkshire Show following this year’s event.

Rachel has an affinity for dairy farming, but she gives the assurance that it will not unduly influence her input into the 2025 Great Yorkshire Show (GYS) programme when she takes over from Charles Mills as show director. One of her goals is to reach as wide an audience as possible, encompassing the urban communities, which are well represented close to her family holding near Shipley in West Yorkshire.

“Our farm is surrounded by urban communities, including many ethnic minority families,” said Rachel. “I think it is important to communicate the farming message to everyone and the show team is doing some great work to attract interest from all sectors, by forging links with the relevant schools and local organisations.

“Obviously, our core audience within the agricultural community remains extremely important, and feedback indicates that people without farming connections can increase their understanding about food and farming, as well as enjoying a good day out. Encouraging the younger generation is another key driver when we start to plan the GYS 2025 schedule.”

The Northern Farmer: Rachel Coates, the new Great Yorkshire Show Director

At home, Rachel and her husband, Stephen, milk 75 pedigree Holsteins and Jerseys assisted by their 26-year-old son, Ben, who is a partner in the business. The family show their cattle at the Great Yorkshire under the ‘Bailmoor’ prefix and took the supreme dairy champion with a Holstein in 2002, while another Holstein was awarded first prize in last year’s breed line-up. Meanwhile, the couple’s two daughters have also developed careers in agriculture. Felicity Coates works for Holstein UK, while Zoe Coates is employed by British Wool.

Rachel met her husband at their local Young Farmers Club, where she was club chairman and went on to become vice-chairman of the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers Clubs. She is one of the founders and organisers of Baildon farmers’ market, near Shipley, which has been operating for over a decade and showcases the region’s produce. However, her association with farming stretches much further back.

“I grew up on a smallholding near Skipton and my late father, Robin Addyman, was a livestock auctioneer at Clitheroe mart,” she explained. “I studied land management at the Royal Agricultural University at Cirencester, but from there my career took a different path. I worked in advertising and marketing before marrying and moving to the farm, where I mainly look after the calves and youngstock.”

Held on the showground near Harrogate, the GYS is very much a team effort, she stressed. Alongside her role as show director, she sits on the dairy cattle show committee and is a council member of the show organisers, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

She said: “The show director is the figurehead for the event, which would not be able to go ahead without the tremendous team of people who are based on site. They work all year round behind the scenes, to design a programme that will attract and entertain visitors, and to make sure that everything runs smoothly over the four days. They are helped by more than 300 voluntary stewards and we are extremely grateful for their support.

“There are opportunities for me to add my input and I visit the showground on a weekly basis, as well as contributing via phone calls and emails. I applied for the post because I felt that I ticked a lot of the boxes, in terms of what I could offer, especially with my farming links and my marketing background.

“All aspects of farming are represented at the GYS and we have a wide variety of new attractions for this year’s event. A quad bike stunt show has been booked for the main ring for the first time ever, and we are also hosting the World Ayrshire Federation’s annual conference, with delegates coming from all over the globe.

"In addition, it has been chosen as the venue for the British Charolais Cattle Society’s national annual show. My remit when I take up my new position as show director is to ensure that the GYS remains relevant and showcases the best that farming has to offer to the wider public.”

The 2024 Great Yorkshire Show is being held on July 9-12.