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(Updated 11/4/01)

SKC May show to go ahead

Scottish Kennel Club AGM 29 March 2001

Members at the Scottish Kennel Club's AGM last Thursday received confirmation of the intention to proceed with the May Championship Show as planned. Although the decision would be kept under constant review, all the advice to date clearly indicated that this was the correct course of action. Convener, Robert Crawford, did, however, extend the sympathy of members to all those affected by what he described as 'this hellish scourge'.

With the cancellation of so many other events, the Show will be seen by many exhibitors as an ideal opportunity to give their dogs an outing before Crufts and they can be assured of a warm welcome. The Chief Executive of the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society, which owns the Ingliston Showground, has written to say that they are 'very supportive' of the decision to go ahead.

Members also heard that the closing date for entries has been extended to 17th April and schedules should still be available at Birmingham National.

The meeting also received the Club's very comprehensive Annual Report and Accounts, which were reviewed by the Convener in his remarks to the meeting. Particular interest was shown in the Club's property transactions, which should result in the members having completely new headquarters for a net outlay of around 22,000.

New structure

Proposals concerning a new structure for membership subscriptions were approved along with various tidying up proposals concerning the constitution.

The Club's representative on the Kennel Club Show Executive Committee, Mrs. Irene McManus, was re-elected for a further three years along with her deputy, Rev. Jim Peat.

There was no ballot required this year for Executive Council places and those elected were:

Mr. T.E. Bowman, Mrs. R. Dalrymple, Mrs. J. Fairlie, Mr. J.A. Johnston, Mr. A. Kousourou, Mrs.E.A. Macdonald, Mrs. M. Quinn, Mr. D.T.C. Sharpe, Miss S.G. Stoddart and Mr. J.A. Young.

In a surprise ending to the meeting, Robert Crawford made a presentation to Roy Ellison, who had retired last year as a trustee. He referred to his long membership of the Council, his sterling efforts as show manager and particularly to his re-writing of the Club's constitution, which had become the benchmark for so many other clubs.

Convenor's remarks

Convenor Robert Crawford

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my sad duty to report the deaths of the following members during the past year:

Mr. E. Austermuhle, Mrs. E.G. Anderson, Mr. K. Bullock, Mr. P. Dawson, Mrs. M. Forsyth, Mrs. M.E. Greenlees, Mrs. E. Hackett, Major. H.P. Lovett-Cameron, Miss. A. Noble, Mr. H.M. Smith, Mrs. Stewart, Mrs. L.M. Wilson-Jones.

In accordance with our custom, let us stand for a moment in silent respect to their memory. Thank you.

The past year has been, to say the least, an eventful one both for the Club and for me personally.

Last April, the Executive Council accorded me an enormous privilege by electing me as their Convener. For anyone involved in dogs, this has to represent the absolute pinnacle and I am extremely grateful for the honour.

I am also extremely conscious of the responsibility bestowed upon me and I pledge to do everything within my power to ensure the future stability of the Scottish Kennel Club. I am also aware of the potential for conflicts of interest and so, for the period that I remain Convener, I have promised not to show my dogs nor to accept any judging appointments with the exception of my own Breeds.

You have, as always, received a very full report from the Executive Council so you'll be pleased to know that I don't intend to go over every point already made in the Report. However, there are a few aspects that I think are worthy of specific mention. They are grouped under five headings:

Club Property

Club Finances

Club Membership

Club Management

Current Issues

Club Property

At the start of last year, our premises in Brunswick Place suffered a devastating flood due to burst pipes from the property above us. This resulted in us moving to rented accommodation in Musselburgh.

I was keen to view this as an opportunity to move out of premises that were no longer suitable for our purposes and I was asked to chair a Property Group charged with exploring the alternatives available to us and presenting a report to Council recommending the way forward.

The upshot was that we sold the Brunswick Place premises and purchased what is currently a derelict property near to our rented office in Musselburgh. This move presents us with a huge opportunity to custom build office premises to our own specification with:

* room to expand

* ample storage for show items

* easy access to stored items

* a self contained Board Room

* big enough for full Council meetings

* available to Clubs for meetings and seminars

* will be able to be let out for training purposes

* ample car parking

Financially, the deal is also very attractive.

On a Cashflow basis, we sold Brunswick Place for 183,500 less expenses of 4,500 and gained 19,000 from the insurance claim as we did not re-instate it following the flood. The purchase and renovation of the new building will cost around 220,000, making a net outflow of 22,000 which can be financed without resorting to borrowing. The even better news is that, following renovation, we will own a building which our surveyor estimates as having a value of 300,000.

Club Finances

Allan will shortly give you a more detailed briefing on our financial affairs, so I will confine myself to a few chosen remarks.

The Club is undoubtedly on a sound financial footing and our Balance Sheet will, I believe, be strengthened by the property transaction already mentioned. This situation has not happened by accident. It is the result of careful financial management and planning by your Executive Council and, more particularly, by the Finance and Administration Committee.

However, let me sound a note of caution. The dividing line between financial misery and being able to continue providing a service to our customers is becoming thinner with the passing years. The reduction in show entries seen across the board places a greater emphasis on developing other income streams and this will have our attention over the coming year. In the meantime, we have held show entry fees at existing levels and, in fact, have reduced subsequent entries in a bid to continue attracting exhibitors to our shows.

Such fluctuations in show entries and, indeed, other major factors which impact on show societies underline the necessity of ensuring adequate reserves. I would urge all society committees to pay attention to this aspect of their club's affairs. Having adequate reserves should be seen as a sign of financial prudence rather than a case for embarrassment.

Club Membership

Club membership has increased to 1916 annual members and 404 life members. I would like to see this move to around 2500 annual members within the next few years. So, if you know of anyone who would benefit from membership, why not encourage them to do so? There are Application Forms here which you can take with you!

I am especially keen to encourage Junior Members and would ask you to give some thought as to how we might achieve that.Perhaps membership could be given as part of a Birthday present alongside the latest hot computer game!

You'll also see tonight proposals coming forward to set the fees for Joint Membership, Junior Membership and a Joining Fee. These are the consequences of the changes you made to the Constitution at last year's AGM.

Club Management

The changes you approved last year to the committee structure have now been put into effect.

Careful thought was given to the Terms of Reference for each new committee as it was important to ensure that the boundaries of their remit were clear to all concerned. That, naturally, took time but I am sure will pay dividends in the long run. Each of the committees has now met at least once and, in future years, you will have a report from them.

One of the key changes was the introduction of members being able to sit on these new committees and I am encouraged that quite a number of you volunteered to take part. Unfortunately, not all were successful but I am keen to ensure that the wider membership is involved in the Club's affairs. You now have another opportunity to volunteer as the form on Page 43 of the report can be handed in tonight!

Current Issues

It would be remiss of me to conclude my remarks without mentioning the current outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease.

I know that all of you will join with me in extending our sympathy to all those affected by this hellish scourge. It is impossible to imagine the thoughts of those caught up by this disease. Living in a farming community, as I do, I am well aware of the fears and distress of people living on a knifedge, on the one hand sympathising with those afflicted and on the other hand hoping that it does not spread to them.

The outbreak does, of course, have ramifications far beyond the farming community. For many weeks, this country was under virtual siege with huge tracts of countryside out of bounds and a great many tourist attractions closed to visitors.

Many dog shows, including Crufts, have been cancelled or postponed. Some because their venue was no longer available to them whilst others bowed to public, or media, pressure.

Many major events continue to take place, even at agricultural showgrounds. Ingliston, for example, continues to stage major events on a weekly basis subject to understandable additional precautions. Sporting fixtures with huge crowds continue to be held throughout the country, even in affected areas. The Government has recently announced a limited 'business as usual' objective. Paradoxically, the longer the crisis continues and the more widespread the outbreak becomes, the case for cancellation or postponement becomes weaker.

With this background in mind, your Executive Council had to decide whether or not to continue with the May show. The advice of MAFF and the Scottish Executive has been taken into account as has the fact that dogs are no more likely to spread this disease than humans. In addition, The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society has not changed the terms of our lease at Ingliston in any way.

In these circumstances, the Executive Council has decided to stage the May show at the usual venue and on the original dates. Needless to say, this decision will be kept under constant review in the light of changing circumstances.

General

And finally, I would like to take this opportunity to record my thanks:

* firstly to Allan Sim and his staff who all do a sterling job in keeping the Club running at maximum strength

* secondly, to Eleanor Bothwell, my Vice-Convener, who has done so much to share the load over the past year

* to all the other committee chairman, and particularly to Irene McManus, who keeps the Show Scheduling Committee running like clockwork

* to all the members of the Executive Council who give freely of their time to ensure that Scottish Kennel Club continues to meet its objectives

* and last, but by no means least, to those members who help out in so many ways, especially at the Shows where willing and hard working hands are worth their weight in gold.

This last year has had its share of challenges but I hope you'll agree that we have come through them with distinction and are well placed to meet any future ones head on.

Thank you for listening.