Chairman, Joint Secretaries, Fellow Welsh Kennel Club members, overseas guests and friends. I’d like you all to spare a thought for Liz Cartledge and send her our good wishes.
It is that time of year again when thousands of people and their dogs gather together at Builth to enjoy a few days together courtesy of our hard working secretaries and the other members of the WKC Committee and of course many other volunteers who give so freely of their time. On behalf of all of us through you Graham and Ann, we thank you for all your hard work.
I would like to extend a warm welcome to all our overseas guests and would like to recognise one or two – Rony Doedijns from Holland, the World Best in Show Judge last week and Angela Lloyd, the double Junior Handler at Crufts and Westminster in the same year and Westminster Best in Show winner 2011 with a Deerhound.
It is a great pleasure to meet with legendary judge Mr Ed Bivin, Best in Show judge Westminster 1999 and we are pleased to have him with us. From a Pomeranian through to Doberman’s, few stones remain unturned in this gentleman’s career and looking at his portfolio of judging photographs I am delighted to see that he does appreciate Siberian Huskies with ‘legs’! Of course he is not the only product to arrive here from Fort Worth these last couple of months.
Forth Worth, a city in which I spent significant time over the last 25 years, is of course home to Lockheed Martin and the latest military platform the F35 Lightening, a product purchased by the UK Ministry of Defence from LM the first nine of which arrived in Norfolk recently. Fort Worth is also home to one of the great baseball franchises, the Texas Rangers, but my days of being able to talk about sport on this occasion are alas in the past, unless of course we talk of cycling and swimming which has brought Wales some success of late!
I must say how nice it is to see Peter and Beth again, our dog world ‘royalty’. Peter, who was born in Neath is of course our BIS judge, and I would like you all to take this opportunity to congratulate Peter on his Westminster BIS judging appointment in 2019 which will complete the most ‘impossible’ of achievements as the only person ever to win and judge BIS at both Crufts and Westminster. Many congratulations Peter!
I must briefly mention the recent passing of a friend and colleague Alan Rountree, General Committee and Board member of the Kennel Club for 16 years and long-time Chair of the Field Trials subcommittee – just another who gave so freely of his time for so many years and his contribution will be very much missed.
So how are things going as they say – well technology dictates that in the not too distant future the concept of any printed hard copy will be a thing of the past and for someone like me who spent 20 years in the printing industry – that is tough for me to say. It is not ‘if’ but when and how we proactively manage the transition that is important.
The Kennel Club is developing its internal processes to bring all its products and services into line using a single Customer Relationship Management system which means quite simply that all staff will be working from, and building, a single database which will prevent duplication and mean the deletion of outdated satellite systems. This is a two year project, but the benefits in efficiency and service will be tremendous. I am the first to recognize that our stakeholders have every right to be dissatisfied with our current day to day service levels, telephone response times etc, but we are working on improving these in a number of ways including a review of the use of ‘call back’ systems.
In addition within the Kennel Club there has been large scale restructuring and reorganization since the beginning of April and the directors are very pleased with the progress being made. On top of that puppy registrations are up 2.5% year to date.
Last weekend we staged the largest International Agility festival to date – an event which is over a number of days and is arguably a must for every international competitor. Alas it clashed with the World show in Amsterdam so attendance was a challenge for a number of us but huge congratulations and thanks to all those involved in the organisation.
On the subject of the World Show last weekend in Amsterdam, which was attended by a number of us in various guises from exhibitor to judge, to guest. Clearly a monster of an event to organise and I must congratulate show President Gerard Jipping on the achievement of running three shows – the Benelux show, the two day World show in parallel with numerous specialty shows. Clearly there was a great deal going on for what I was told was the seventeen or so thousand dogs giving thirty plus thousand entries across the three shows. It was a real jamboree in every respect with the opportunity to meet many friends from across the globe – with the FCI taking the opportunity to hold a meeting of their member clubs following the show.
Tom Mather our new Chair of Crufts was in attendance and for both of us, and other UK show organizers present it was important to take the opportunity to ‘benchmark’ this show and meet and network with the ‘movers and shakers’ of the global scene. After all a ‘Little Britain’ mentality would never do would it?
The KC continues with its program of Question Times around the UK, most recently at Cumbernauld in the central belt of Scotland. These are well supported evenings and provide an excellent forum for debate and feedback. We have a further two planned for this year in the north west of England and in the west/south west of England – details can be found on the KC website.
I recently represented the KC at an event in castle grounds ‘to the west of London’ and was asked what the Kennel Club’s position is with regards to the Yulin festival and the World Dog show planned for China. I reiterated what I have said before when this was first tabled some years ago, 2015 to be exact, that so far as the Kennel Club is concerned until such time as the Yulin festival is confined once and for all to history then we would not be represented at events in mainland China including the upcoming World Show. That is the KC’s position and whilst I will say quite clearly this event, which is an FCI event, is not our business per se, it is interesting to me that I know of at least one of our top judges who has declined the opportunity to participate. This is a subject about which we will all have an opinion however at a personal level I would be interested to hear the justification for attendance by those organisations who claim to have the welfare of the ‘dog’ at its heart, and how they intend to manage any potential fallout post their attendance. Certainly an item for a corporate ‘risk register’ I would imagine!
On the subject of ‘sporting governance’ – and in this area I refer to all the Liaison councils, committees etc. Vice Chair Steve Croxford is leading a group to review and create efficiencies in this area, avoiding duplication of time and cost and streamlining where appropriate. This will not be a ‘revolution’ but an evolution of practice following discussion, and regular reports will be issued on progress made. There is absolutely no intention to limit or reduce the opportunity to meet and discuss matters arising with all those involved in our various dog disciplines, but there has to be a more efficient way of regularly communicating – and if there isn’t then we will continue as we are.
Education covers a number of areas within the KC most notably, the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, the Training Board, YKC, Good Citizen Dog Scheme, Bark and Read to name but a few, and Tony Allcock who has a particular interest and background in this area has been asked to represent the Board with a view to stream lining these activities to once again avoid duplication and bring more focus.
Similarly, health covers a number of areas in the KC and Charlotte McNamara, supported by the Chair of our Dog Health group, Nick Blaney, has taken ownership of the creation and delivery of a revised health strategy, which will be launched later in the year. Consequently we hope in the future our charitable investment will be more focused on the research of, and hopefully solution to, some of the breed specific health issues rather than more ‘general’ causes somewhat removed from our stakeholders.
Recognizing that according to exhibitors the future success of dog shows will depend on the quality of their judging panel, the new Judges Education program, the Judges Competency Framework (JCF) progresses with a very successful education coordinators day and several new breed education films being produced. It is clear some breeds are progressing at speed and using the time available, prior to launch, to good effect and this is a very sensible approach. The volunteers led by Jeff Horswell and the staff support led by Adrian Marett are doing a wonderful job.
We are receiving very positive feedback an example of which is the following email: ‘I wish to give you some positive feedback re the Breed Education Coordinators. It is working. I have received several emails wishing to help us to move forward and offering the 3 special classes. In my experience over the years this has never ever happened from the Clubs before. It should have been done a long time ago but I am so happy and grateful that it is finally happening now and it took the KC to get it going’. Repetitive opposition to the JCF from a now isolated corner of the dog world reminds me of Queen Gertrude who says in Hamlet ‘the lady doth protest too much methinks’. Is their concern that they would not meet the new requirements?
Allied to the JCF education program will be the KC’s Judges Critique website, which has proven to be even more popular than anticipated. Now providing judges with a full ‘life cycle’ from the initial training and education through to the post appointment facility to publish the critique. This free to access facility has been very well received by judges and exhibitors alike. Currently we have 1300 users and 1500 critiques uploaded.
Briefly on the subject of discipline and Codes of Conduct, the Board believe it is the desire of all stakeholders in our sport to expect and enjoy simple and reasonable standards of integrity and good behaviour. Where complaint is made to the Kennel Club and it is proven that these standards have not been met, then the Kennel Club will act. I am sure the vast majority of those present would believe that to be reasonable.
Turning to the subject of the media, the Kennel Club has in Steve Conway a new Head of Communications, who has already sought to reach out to build professional relationships with media partners. His knowledge of social media and the media world at large, combined with his expertise in Customer Relationship Management, to which I referred earlier, will be a great asset to all concerned.
Having spent three days in Amsterdam it was time to come back down to earth last Sunday with a day spent at the Thetford and Dist CS Open show. Held at a super new country park venue it was a quite wonderful day and seemed far removed from the negativity peddled by those who are profiteers of doom and gloom. In thanking Stella Clark’s committee for organizing such a good and ‘old fashioned’ day out last Sunday, where a good time was had by all and good sportsmanship abounded, I think we should all encourage the promotion of a positive attitude to the sport or fancy we love, and hope that by working together we will overcome any negativity and enjoy our passion for many years to come.
Will you please all be upstanding – the toast is the Welsh Kennel Club coupled with the name of Peter Green.
Simon Luxmoore – The Kennel Club Chairman