This year’s Aylsham Show president knows his outdoor events backwards – and, perhaps equally important, knows his weather inside and out.
John Wootton ran event management company Eastern Events for more than 30 years, retiring only last year.
So this year’s presidency could be, one could suggest, a good way to keep a busy man in the way to which he has been accustomed.
In a previous professional life, before the event management career took off, John was at sea for 20 years, firstly for the Merchant Navy and then for the oil industry.
Serious and lengthy illness forced retirement from the sea, but Eastern Events then gave John his living, taking him around the country – Blickling, Calke Abbey, Audley End, Hampton Court, Ickworth and Anglesey Abbey among the destinations.
He was first persuaded to get involved in the show by his wife Charlotte’s uncle, John Thornton, who was president in 1982.
John served as assistant show director for several years until 1992, but Eastern Events meant that he didn’t have the capacity to stay involved through the very busy years.
He came back into the show fold formally in 2009 when he took on the show director job.
The show director builds the show on the ground with a team of people, and then takes it apart again after the show closes. Typically this takes three weeks in the run up and a week afterwards – a month of mid-summer voluntary work is obviously a major commitment.
Taking on the show’s vice-presidency a year and a half ago meant John has handed on the show director’s role – it is now filled by another well known face, Tim Elwes.
John said: “The presidency is a real honour in itself, but perhaps the most enjoyable thing about it is that across the two years of vice-presidency and presidency I can actually get out and about on show day, see what’s on offer and visit the people who make it so special.
“The show director never gets that opportunity!
“I’ve also been able to get out and see the farm competition, which was a great pleasure.”
As already mentioned, weather is one of John’s great interests, born out of all those years as a ship’s captain and as an event manager.
“The weather is definitely different now to 30 years ago, lots more heavy rain and more peaks and troughs of wet weather and warm sunshine.
“That makes event management more risky and of course we are in an increasingly competitive market – but that said, the Aylsham Show had a record year in 2016 and as a brand is in very good shape.”