Great Yorkshire Show director Charles Mills to hang up his hat next summer after eight years

Charles Mills will be stepping down from his role next summer. Picture Tony Johnson
Charles Mills will be stepping down from his role next summer. Picture Tony Johnson

With one last tip of his now-famous bowler hat, he is to stand down after next summer's show, and the hunt is now on for a new show director.

There is much he will miss, said Mr Mills. Early starts, to be on the Harrogate showground before 6am. The buzz of showday, and the rush of the crowds.

It's "probably" been as good as playing cricket for Yorkshire, he said.

"I've done my shows, and it's been a fair time," he said.

"I will be shedding a tear," he added. "It's meant everything to me. I'll still be there, hopefully going to the show in a more relaxed manner."

Mr Mills, farmer, father and grandfather, has confirmed that next summer's Great Yorkshire Show (GYS), from July 9 to 12, will be his last. It will be his ninth as director, having served before that as joint chief cattle steward with his great friend Margaret Chapman.

And at his heart, said Mr Mills, he has always been a farmer. His parents were members of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society (YAS), appointing him and his brother life members.

From his first memories of attending the GYS to now though, much has changed.

"I was in short corduroys and wellies, and I still seemed to be wet," he recalled. "We never seemed to buy food, there were so many trade stands providing. It was a very different show then, 99 per cent agricultural, 99 per cent of those going were farmers."

Through his tenure, Mr Mills' focus has been on holding firm on those threads. He had only ever applied to the role because he believed in what the YAS stood for, he reflected. In its charitable ambitions, its work with schools. In sharing why farming matters.

The GYS, now as one of the biggest events in England's agricultural calendar, proves a shop window for British farming and an annual holiday for many British farmers.

It is also a platform, with a significant standing in drawing political heavyweights such as MPs and ministers. Then the Royals, with Mr Mills having escorted the now King and Queen.

It hasn't always been plain sailing. Covid struck a major blow in 2020, with the "awful" call to cancel the show despite knowing what that meant to many people's livelihoods. It was the only call that could be made, and looking back Mr Mills draws on its rock-solid resilience.

The show's return the following year saw traditions evolve - returning over four days rather than three.

He does credit his wife Jill, insisting he couldn't have done the job without her tireless support.

Mr Mills, as he prepares to hang up his hat next summer - for director duties at least - said it has been an "honour and a privilege".

"It's been wonderful. Probably better than playing cricket for Yorkshire."​​​​​​​​​​​​​​