Concern over wheelchair bound judge at SKC show

THOSE 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 her.

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 impeccably

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.

Contrary

She 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 19th. 2002:-

‘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 committee’s 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 they responded.

“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.

Disabled

“ 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 wheelchair.

“ 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.”



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