REMAINING at the Royal Highland Showground, Ingliston last
Sunday evening to watch best in show were shocked to see the
scheduled judge Mrs Jayne Wilson-Stringer (Horsleys) brought
into the ring in a wheelchair.
She was then taken to the centre of the ring by main ring
and Deputy Chief steward Mr Tom Johnston to look at the seven
group winners competing for best in show.
The judging was witnessed by several past convenors of the
Scottish Kennel Club including Kennel Club Trustee and Crufts
Committee Chairman Mr Peter Mann. Mrs Valerie Foss, a KC General
Committee member who had been judging at the show was also
at the ring side. It was also witnessed by overseas judges
from Norway and Sweden.
Earlier the same day Mrs Rosemary Smart the newly appointed
Chief Executive of the Kennel Club and Assistant Secretary
(STA) Mrs Kathryn Symn had been at the show.
Mrs Wilson-Stringer had arrived at the weekend determined
to fulfil what was to be her last ever judging appointment.
She was brought to the ringside as the last group was completed
on the Sunday and was helped out of a car and lifted into
a wheelchair. A zimmer frame was also used to help steady
Following the normal pattern of finals judging she was wheeled
over to the head of the ring by the decorated tables where
she examined the table dogs by reaching forward from her chair
whilst the handlers turned their dogs around through 360 degrees.
The same procedure was adopted for the floor dogs
except that their handlers were asked to bring the exhibits
along side the wheelchair for examination. All the dogs behaved
From the chair she instructed the handlers to move in patterns
around the ring with all of them co-operating.
After she had seen them all she was wheeled back into the
centre of the ring, after further deliberation she moved them
again and created a short list of four.
then said that she was going to place them in reverse order
which is totally contrary to KC rules. She pointed to and
pulled out the Dobermann despite the two clearly marked best
in show and reserve bis podia which had by then placed
in the ring.
At this point a member of the SKC Executive Council intervened
and Secretary General Mr Allan Sim entered the ring to advise
the steward on the matter.
Two minutes later Mrs Wilson-Stringer pointed to the German
Shepherd as her winner and the Scottish Terrier as reserve.
OUR DOGS contacted the Kennel Club last Monday to secure its
latest guidelines on the subject of disabled judges - a matter
which has concerned them before and action in which has robbed
the world of dogs of some senior allrounders on the one hand
and physically disabled younger judges on the other. They
issued the following statement which was updated on February
The issue of disabled judges has been considered by
the General Committee of the Kennel Club and the following
statement represents Kennel Club policy.
The committee is aware of the issue of judges who are disabled
either visually of physically. These persons are advised not
to undertake appointments to judge if they feel their judging
methods and/or ring procedure is negatively affected.
It is not the committees intention that any particular
disability should be a disqualification from judging but in
everyones interest, including the dogs, this issue has to
be taken into account with other factors. The committee would
very much appreciate the co-operation of judges and show societies
in this matter.
Secretary General of the SKC Allan Sim commented -
I was aware of the possibility that Jayne Wilson-Stringer
may have to use her wheelchair.
As with every other aspect of show organisation, I was prepared
for it and saw no difficulty in this. Indeed, it will be encouraging
to others, in the same position, to know that perfectly acceptable
ring procedure can be adopted for such circumstances and Tom
Johnston is to be commended for carrying out these procedures
in a sensitive manner. Group winners were advised of the circumstances
before they entered the ring and they, along with their dogs,
deserve considerable praise for the cheerful way in which
Exhibitors with disabilities are allowed to compete
and I see no reason why judges should not be similarly permitted.
Perhaps the ring procedures adopted by SKC should now be written
in to the KC guidelines for judges.
It was unfortunate that the situation was marred by
the confusion over the final award. The commentary position
was behind the judge and steward and I was unaware of the
conversation between judge and steward until one of our group
stewards advised me. Immediate action was taken to ensure
that Kennel Club regulations were followed.
Speaking to OUR DOGS last Tuesday Mrs Jayne Wilson-Stringer
said - I was determined to go through with my appointment
on behalf of the SKC who were very understanding. I consulted
with my surgeon who gave his approval despite a fifth hip
operation which went wrong.
I was striking a note for the freedom of people who are disabled,
you have no idea how you are ostracised when you sit in a
I do not and will never play on disability but I believe
that people should have the right to pursue and indulge in
something to which they have given half their life.
I enjoyed my day immensely and thank the officials of
the SKC for their help.