A FIFTH-generation Wheatbelt farmer has been appointed as the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia's (RASWA) new chief executive.
Robyn Sermon's appointment was announced last week and she takes over the reins from Peter Cooper who had spent more than a decade in the role.
Ms Sermon said despite the COVID Omicron variant being sure to throw some curveballs their way, it was full-steam ahead for the 2022 Perth Royal Show.
"Although we didn't have a show in 2020, we worked with the State government and other stakeholders to deliver a beautiful show last year and it was actually one of the most successful shows we've had in ten years," Ms Sermon said.
"We are hoping to do that again this year, and while I know we will face a lot of challenges, we will navigate through those like every other organisation - the plan is to run a show."
Hailing from Northam and the co-owner of a broadacre farm in Grass Valley with her brother, Ms Sermon said agriculture was and would continue to be the heart and soul of the iconic event.
"Agriculture has changed a lot in the past 10-15 years, so while there is still a huge focus on broadacre cropping and cattle, there is so much more diversity in food produce in WA and I think there is a lot for RASWA to do in that space, particularly with our food awards," Ms Sermon said.
"Certainly the role that RASWA plays in celebrating and showcasing WA agriculture in all its forms is really significant."
Having previously worked as a country journalist, for a minister in parliament in the seat of Pearce, in the mining industry for 18 years and also for WA Country Health Services, Ms Sermon said all of her previous roles and board experience had involved a passion for regional and remote WA.
In her role with Rio Tinto, Ms Sermon became formally involved with the Perth Royal Show for the first time, when the mining giant was a major exhibitor in 2016.
"We had an exhibit and I spent seven days on my feet at the show and it was really good fun," Ms Sermon said.
However Ms Sermon's familiarity with the event came long before her involvement in a corporate capacity.
"I am a proud Western Australian who exhibited in my local show as a kid, as my family did before that in Northam, and I would come to the show every year," Ms Sermon said.
"The highlight for me growing up was the animal nursery and the other one was the wool fashion parade, which I don't think they have anymore, but I remember being very young and my mum being very excited when we would sit down and watch that every year."
Looking forward, she said a lot of desktop work had been completed by the local council on the redevelopment of the Claremont Showgrounds, with that information to be released later in the year.
"The council has done an amazing amount of work looking towards the future, for both the showgrounds and the agricultural society more generally and I'm really looking forward to delivering that vision," Ms Sermon said.
"Strengthening the showcasing of agriculture in all its forms, both the historical kind of themes but also moving forward into areas like agtech, innovation and research in agriculture, the role that agriculture can play moving forward in tourism - all of those aspects we are really excited to explore."
RASWA president David Thomas said Ms Sermon's executive and board experience in a range of industries, including agriculture, gave her a broad and unique skill set that made her an ideal candidate to lead the organisation.
"The RASWA Council is extremely pleased that Robyn will be joining the society at a time when it has endured two tough years, but at the same time experienced a very successful 2021 Perth Royal Agricultural Show," Mr Thomas said.
"Additionally, the future redevelopment of the Claremont Showgrounds will feature high on our future plans and we were very impressed with Robyn's credentials in relation to this."
Ms Sermon said she was happy that she had finally arrived in a role that her children gave her credit for.
"The show has provided me with this incredible credibility back home - my kids are very impressed," she said.
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