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Devon County Show staff suffered 'shocking' abuse after the event was cancelled, organisers have revealed

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: May 31, 2014

  • Show organisers announce the decision to scrap the last day

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DEVON County Show staff had to put up with shocking abuse from irate showgoers when the third day of the show was cancelled last week, organisers have revealed.

Show organisers have already revealed that they will be £500,000 out of pocket following the cancellation of the third day of the event.

They took the decision last week after car parks turned to quagmires in heavy rain and concerns grew over the safety of the event.

The losses were revealed after organisers revealed that the show had no wet weather insurance because the premiums were too high.

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Secretary Ollie Allen said the cancellation, the first in the show’s 119-year history, led to staff being verbally abused.

She said: “There is quite a bit of mixed emotion out there, which is understandable.

“I have to say, at the beginning what shocked me more than anything were the customers out there who were incredibly rude to our staff on the phones.

“The majority were understanding, it was the minority who shouted the loudest. Some of it I wouldn’t repeat.

“The ladies did a cracking job fielding the calls.”

She added: “The public is our first concern. It was public safety rather than health and safety.

“We also had to take the advice from our guys out there on the frontline.

“Again, the abuse that some of them took was just inexcusable.”

Explaining why the show had no insurance, she said: “In this industry the premiums for insurance are horrendous. We have looked at it very seriously on more than one occasion.

“As with all insurance policies there are conditions. A certain amount of rain has to fall in a certain amount of time and you have to prove it to be able to make a claim.

“If we’d paid the premiums all the years we’ve run – or even just the 25 years we’ve been at Westpoint – it would have been a horrendous amount of money.”

She added: “I can understand the financial concern, and we are always open to constructive criticism or new ideas because there isn’t anyone in the world who knows it all.

“We estimate a loss, as a business, in excess of half a million pounds this year.

“And don’t forget we are a registered charity.”

Despite the problems, Ms Allen stressed the show would go on. Changes will be examined for next year, primarily involving making the car parks safer and easier to use, whatever the weather.

“The business is secure. I can say that. We are going to have to take this hit,” she said.

“Because of the nature of our business we will have to take this hit.

“Lessons are learnt. Everytime there is a crisis we learn from it.

“And the great thing about our association is not only do they learn from it, they take action.”

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