Dorset Agricultural Society has elected a female chair for the first time in its 178-year history.

Rebecca Hill has taken over the role as chair of the society for 2018 and 2019, while Nicola Ralph has become the first female vice-chair. This is the first time that the senior roles at the society have been taken by women to create an all-female top team.

The society was formed in 1840 and is responsible for organising some of Dorset’s most recognisable agricultural events, including Dorset County Show, which attracts 60,000 people across the two-day event, taking place on September 1 and 2, 2018.

Rebecca has been involved with the Dorset County Show throughout her life, including becoming a trustee of the management board, and follows in her father, John’s footsteps, as a former chair and then ground chairman of the society.

Rebecca Hill, chair of Dorset Agricultural Society, said: “It is a pleasure to take over the role of chair of Dorset County Show as the first female chair in 178 years. I am passionate about the show as it promotes agriculture and the great things that Dorset has to offer, so I hope to build on the fantastic work that has taken place before me.

“The livestock showing is one that I am immensely proud of and it builds on entries year on year. We can also boast the largest homecraft tent in England, which is a massive achievement. This year we are showcasing a brand new education area, which will be an interactive space to show off the various aspects of farming to young people.”

Outside of the society, Rebecca runs the family farm in Winterborne Kingston, where she lives with her two children. As well as the home farm, Rebecca has involvement with farming on the Drax estate and other neighbouring land.

Nicola Ralph joins as vice-chair, having been involved with the show for more than 40 years, including serving as home craft chair, after being brought up as part of a farming family near Dorchester. Outside of the society, Nicola works as a head teacher at two primary schools in Dorset and helps with judging at other home craft competitions.

She said: “I am thrilled to be part of a female-led team heading up Dorset Agricultural Society for 2018. Having been involved with the show since the age of 16, it’s exciting to see how the event has developed over the years. It is also great to see my daughters become a part of the next generation of young farmers as they enter the show’s competitions each year.”

Throughout the remainder of the year, Dorset Agricultural Society runs the Spring Show which takes place on Sunday, March 25, as well as a flock competition, sheep dog trials and a ploughing match.

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