Belfast Telegraph

Cormac McKervey: Farming business takes you to many wonderful places

From left: Alan Crowe, chief executive of the RUAS, operations director Rhonda Geary and Mark Crimmins, Ulster Bank head of NI
From left: Alan Crowe, chief executive of the RUAS, operations director Rhonda Geary and Mark Crimmins, Ulster Bank head of NI

By Cormac McKervey

Today's office has become a very popular hashtag on Twitter. Any time your working day brings you somewhere out of the ordinary, it would appear the pressing thing to do is to post a snap of your surroundings on social media, captioned of course with the aforementioned phrase, #todaysoffice .

As an agriculture manager, I spend as much time working at farmyards and factories across Northern Ireland as I do in front of my desk in the office so I'm fairly accustomed to being out and about and working in unusual environments.

Needless to say, then, #todaysoffice is not something I tend to partake in.

That said, throughout the month of October, I found myself in a few different locations which certainly warranted a post.

A few weeks ago, Ulster Bank announced it is to continue its sponsorship of the Balmoral Show and to do so, we gathered in the beautiful surrounds of Cloughbane Farm in Co Tyrone along with members of the Guild of Agriculture Journalists and of course our partners and friends from the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS).

Getting 30 people to leave their desks and travel to the mountains of Pomeroy is no mean feat and when people do make the effort, you can be confident that they are doing so for good reason.

While the promise of a bowl of home-made stew - Cloughbane Farm's bestselling product - may have been a big draw, I like to think people turned out because of a genuine interest in and fondness for the Balmoral Show.

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As principal sponsor of the show since 2009, Ulster Bank is extremely proud to continue and grow our association with the event. Renewing the sponsorship underpins our commitment not only to the show, but to the wider agricultural industry which of course is facing a multitude of challenges at this time. Our message to farmers and producers remains clear. We are here to support you through the good times and the more difficult times and we encourage everyone connected with the sector to include Balmoral as a place to meet, share experiences and seek support in plans for the year ahead.

The show itself has transformed tremendously in the last decade and each year continues to widen its appeal. In 2019, we introduced the first ever Ulster Bank Food Trail, giving our customers like Papa's Mineral Co and others the chance to elevate their presence at the show. The initiative was a huge success and reinforced the fact that the show can attract visitors from all walks of life and not just those from a traditional farming background.

The 2020 Balmoral Show may be seven months away but making the sponsorship announcement has brought the show front of mind once again and plans are afoot to deliver a spectacular event. We are looking forward to catching up with our colleagues and customers come May, strengthening relationships and offering advice and support.

I would encourage everyone with an interest in our agri food sector to include a visit to Balmoral in their plans for 2020. With so much to see and do, it will certainly be worth the time spent away from your desk and provide lots of colourful content for those all-important social media posts.

Cormac McKervey is senior agricultural manager at Ulster Bank

Belfast Telegraph