Interview with Alain Wright

This week marks around 105 years of us working with the Royal Highland Show, which opens this Thursday. We have the responsibility for displaying and caretaking the 300 trophies which are awarded each year - between 40-45 of which have been handcrafted in our workshops on 87 George Street. The Trophy Room showcases silverware and goldware in the Highland Hall at the Royal Highland Show and is one of the largest collections of its kind in the UK, with trophies from the Show itself as well as other associations donated for presentation. The trophy room itself is managed by Alain Wright, our Stock Controller.
Who are you and what do you do at H&I?
My main job is stock controller but I also look after the Royal Highland Show trophies, which is the management and administration of their whole collection of trophies donated either from societies or landowners to be presented at the show. There are around 300 trophies, at the moment there are 296. There are always ones coming in. Some years there are ones not awarded, or decommissioned but we still look after them. Alain Wright checking trophies.
How do you manage the trophies?
The management side of it is getting the names engraved, cleaning them, then posting out, delivering or having them collected and making sure the right person gets the right trophy. That involves talking to the Highland Show, chasing them for names or trying to get information as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
What do you enjoy about the Royal Highland Show?
We have a great working partnership with the Royal Highland Show. Trophy winners have spent a lifetime preparing their animals for this moment, and it is a privilege for me and our team of craftspeople to look after these exceptional displays of silverware and goldware and help in their presentation. When you look at some cups dating back to 1903, and you think of all the people engraved on them and the lives they have dealt with, it makes me very proud to be involved in this great celebration of Scotland’s rural life. I have seen people moved to tears when they have collected the trophies, often seeing the names of grandparents engraved before theirs. It is a truly unique showcase.
Which are your favourite trophies?
Some of the trophies are incredible. There’s a trophy which is 4ft tall, which is the Hunter Under Saddle trophy. It also comes in the largest crate ever! Last year we had a family from Ireland who came to see us at Hamilton & Inches to return three of their nine trophies to us and take pictures. They had won the Heavy Horse in the Clydesdale Section and they’d also won the Queen’s Cup. I couldn’t have had a nicer family visit us and we were delighted to show them our workshops and silversmiths who had handcrafted some of their trophies. It’s about the people behind the trophies. My favourite one is the Perth & Kinross cup. It looks like the old FA Cup, made in the heaviest gauged silver I’ve ever come across. It’s only about five inches tall, but it is so well made and is exactly what a great trophy should look like. Trophy drawing
Any highlights from the Royal Highland Show?
The Royal Highland Show is 175 years old and last year we handcrafted a Highland cow for them in silver, called Rosie. The Show also commissioned a local blacksmith to make a cast iron Rosie, which is permanently on show just inside the gate. Rosie belongs to the Highland Show, but will be on display in the Trophy Room at this year’s show and available for purchase from the Highland Show.