During the past year the Crufts Committee met six times. Each year it tries to make improvements and as this was my first year in the hotseat I was delighted - although not surprised - having been thoroughly schooled by Miss Churchill prior to officially taking up the reins to finding out more about the behind the scenes activities that make Crufts the worlds largest and best dog show, which, whilst others may try to imitate, it still remains unrivalled throughout the world!
I would not wish to compare the 2002 show with the previous
year, which fortunately still managed to go ahead with an
decreased entry and attendance due to Foot and Mouth, the
statistics for 2002 were very impressive:
Firstly, with a record public attendance of 120,292, this figure helps to set the scene. Over 20,800 dogs competed in over 2000 individual classes in the 34 rings from 177 different breeds. With an overseas entry of 343 dogs (up 250 on 2001) - this truly gave the 2002 show a cosmopolitan feel! The Standard Poodle from Norway, Topscore Contradiction, or King to his friends, went on to win Best in Show.
The Kennel Club and Crufts welcome the overseas competition and this factor certainly adds yet another positive aspect to the show. Indeed, I feel it is fair to state that during the Group judging on any of the days you found yourself surrounded by the worlds best dogs. With the likelihood of the Pet Travel Scheme being extended to North America in due course, these are surely exciting times for the dog showing fraternity, not least of all Crufts.
Whilst it is not my intention to saturate you in statistics, I thought I would share the following media statistics with you as well: the Crufts BBC programme attracted an audience of 9.1 million, and other TV stations broadcast to a further 10 million. The radio coverage, prior to and during the event reached an estimated 58.6 million listeners. The internet received over six million visits over the four days.
I think youll agree that these are impressive statistics that go some way to dispel the various reports stating that the dogs popularity is rapidly on the decline. Remaining with the media, during the year Crufts representatives met the BBC to discuss the content of the television programmes and it would appear, from both comments and correspondence received and reports in the canine media, that the BBC were virtually spot on with their coverage this year, having found the correct mix of features and disciplines.
The Events Department also received favourable feedback from the majority of Trade Stand holders. Most had enjoyed, as usual, a very busy show, with some actually selling out of their products. It is fair to say that Crufts provides the visitor with an unrivalled shopping opportunity.
As the Chairman has already explained in his address, at Crufts 2002 the target of £1,000 was raised within two years for the Charitable Trust Appeal. I am obviously delighted with this splendid achievement and would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their assistance in realising this figure.
Crufts exhibitors contributed £8,000 and Crufts matched this to donate a total of £16,000 to the Trust. Also at Crufts, the Kennel Clubs Health Foundation Fund, which is part of the Charitable Trust, was given substantial support from Masterfoods - the makers of Pedigree dog food.
In conclusion, I believe that Crufts now possesses both an ideal show layout and infrastructure of activities. The Committee appreciates that there is always room for improvement, but I feel that we are well on our way to achieving our goals. The Committee is also appreciative of the loyalty and help given by our Principal, Major and Official supporters, the judges, stewards and exhibitors without whom the show could not exist.
Those who help with Discover Dogs and the display and training teams also deserve our thanks. Shortly after the event I recall reading an article which compared Crufts to a fine oiled machine! With the continued assistance from everyone in this broad world of dogs, I feel sure that we will continue to organise and be part of the greatest celebration of canines on the planet!