When the 2016 edition of the Showman’s Show was held at Newbury Showground from 19th – 20th October, organiser Lance Show & Publications Limited was delighted to welcome along James Heappey, Conservative MP for Wells and chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for events.
Attending on Thursday 20th October, his visit included a meet and greet session with members of the organising team; participation in a Campfire Session discussing how Brexit will affect the event industry in the coming years; a chat with event management students and a whistle stop tour of the Show.
In addition, James’ also attended a briefing with the National Outdoor Event Association (NOEA), who facilitated his attendance at the Showman’s Show. The association has forged close alliances with the MP and is keen to ensure that he has a strong understanding of the outdoor event market and the challenges it faces.
The panel session on Brexit delivered an interesting insight into how the event industry believes it will be affected. Chaired by Alistair Turner of EIGHT PR & Marketing and President of the International Live Events Association, UK Chapter, James was joined by Dave Bellamy, executive director of Showforce and Luke Galliana, managing director of Activate Communications, who were happy to share their experiences of working in Europe over the last few months. All members of the panel felt that at present they had seen little change since the results of the referendum, however the recurring theme throughout was that no-one knows what the impact will be until Article 50 is triggered, and the threats and opportunities that this current period of uncertainty provides.
Speaking to the organisers at the end of his visit, James Heappey said: “It was amazing to visit the Showman’s Show, I had no idea what to expect but it was fascinating to see the breadth of exhibitors and the sheer volume and variety of products and services on display. Clearly the outdoor event industry is full of enthusiastic and dedicated people with fantastic ideas to take it forward.”
Commenting on James’ visit to the Showman’s Show, organiser Johnny Lance said: “Having someone from government not only show a genuine interest in the outdoor event industry but also take the time out to visit the Show is great news for all of us. James was knowledgeable about our industry and happy to engage and interact with everyone that he met, which was great to see. It was our absolute pleasure to welcome him to the Showman’s Show and we very much hope to see him back in 2017.”
Richard Limb, president of NOEA added: “"It was great to get James back into the sector of the event industry that he has a real affinity with. He's become a great advocate for our industry and I'm convinced the work will support businesses like the ones he met at the Showman's Show. He knows better than most the power of outdoor events and the role they play in the economy, in the lives of everyone and in selling brand UK around the world."
Elected as Conservative MP for Wells in May 2015, James became Chairman of the APPG for events in October of that year. Before entering politics, James served in the British Army for ten years reaching the rank of Major. James also sits on the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee and is a committed campaigner for the rural economy, both of which have synergy with the outdoor event industry.