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KC members open the door but lose the key!

KENNEL CLUB members met last week at their 129th AGM and agreed to double the membership ceiling of the club to 1500 but minutes later rejected a General Committee proposal to ‘fast track’ Associates to full membership.

The door was open but the mechanism to elevate Associates of three years standing or more was lost when proposal 14b failed to achieve a two thirds majority with 106 for and 68 against. There were many abstentions.

The vote came towards the end of the two hour meeting after an passionate speech from Club Committee Chairman Mr Norman Ziman who pointed out that the Kennel Club could not go on offering governance by the self elected few if, at the same time, it was going to be first port of call on all matters relating to dogs.

But members were uneasy about the simple principle of posting proposed ‘new’ members (i.e. Associates) on the board outside the clubrooms in Clarges Street. This practice has been accepted for many years in relation to members whose ‘application’ is pursued by the usual route.

Some felt that existing members should be advised of names going forward by post, others said that posting the names in the Kennel Gazette would be adequate.

The chairman Peter James was visibly shaken by members rejection of such a small but significant step towards ‘opening up’ the club.

Last November a straw poll of members had indicated the time was right but sadly the mood of the members at the meeting, the best attended (202 attendees) for sometime, had not been gauged correctly.

The fact that Associates would offer themselves without personal introduction and a proposer and seconder also sat uneasily with some. It was also suggested that five years (rather than three) as proposed as an associate member should be the figure that the General Committee should have put forward.

Two lady members (ladies were allowed full membership in 1979) suggested that the ceiling of 1500 for full members was derisory and if figures of five million dog owning households, 50,000 active exhibitors and breeders put forward by Peter Mann were to be believed, that a 1500 was totally disproportionate.

Supporting the Kennel Club’s proposals Lord Watson welcomed the changes adding that they would add credibility to the KC’s efforts to influence politicians and authority to the KC image here and in Europe.

Summing up Mr Ziman said that he was convinced that the ‘floodgates would not be opened’ by what had been proposed. Rejection in any shape or form would leave the club ‘sidelined and impotent’ he said and that members would be simply belong to an ‘exclusive mayfair luncheon club’. (See page 10 Ed.)


Careful counting from the aisles by the tellers revealed the strength of feeling against what had been put forward and the mechanism to increase the KC membership was rejected.

The meeting commenced on time at the Royal Aeronautical Society, Hamilton Place, Mayfair with Mrs Rosemary Smart on the dias for the first time as Chief Executive of the KC replacing Mr Roger French who retires today (May 31st).

With the re-election of Vice-Presidents in place Chairman Mr Peter James put forward six names as Honorary Life Members - two under the ‘40 year’ rules Mrs S Burgess and Mrs F J Minns and four for distinguished service to the club is Miss Sybil Churchill former Chairman of Crufts Committee and General Committee Member of 24 years, Mr Roger French retiring CEO, Mr Mike Stockman who retired this year from the General Committee and many other positions held on KC committees and Lt Commander John Williams, KC secretary from 1971 to 1979 and ‘journalist of integrity and authority’ with OUR DOGS for many years until his ‘retirement’ three years ago.

All eight General Committee members offering themselves for re-election - Mr J F Banbury, Mrs A.P. Bliss, Brig R J Clifford, Mrs M J Purnell-Carpenter, Mrs E Samuel, Mrs E F Smethurst, Mrs I E Terry and Mr K.A.W. Young - were re-elected for a three year term.


New to the General Committee this year will be Mr Mike Townsend who was elected for a one year term. He was Hon Sec of the Irish Setter Association from 1995-2001 and has been a trustee of the KC Charitable Trust since 1998 and was recently elected its chairman on the retirement of Mr Mike Stockman.

In a remarkable ‘state of the union’ address Chairman Mr Peter James stood for 41 minutes to read his 34 page report which is featured in full elsewhere on these pages. In recent years one of the shortest meetings lasted as long as this marathon 5465 word address!!

Mr Mike Townsend joins the Kennel Club General Committee for a one year term

After his unheeded pleas to members and the committees unprecedented defeat it was a disappointed chairman who made his way back to Clarges Street for lunch. After the meeting most expressed disappointment at an opportunity lost and couldn’t understand why so many voted against the proposal to facilitate Associates’ full membership.

The KC Chairman took a different view and told OUR DOGS that he felt very positive about the future of any fine tuning that had to be done. ‘Members had concerns which we will address’, he said, ‘the walk back down Piccadilly is very theraputic and by the time I got to the club I realised that we had a victory on our hands. We will bring it back to the members in due course’.

It was, perhaps, appropriate that Kennel Club members had time to reflect on the day’s events in one of Mayfair's most exclusive luncheon clubs.

If the Kennel Club is to maintain any credibility in the costly areas of Media and Marketing on which it spent over £342,000 in 2001 and become the first port of call in all matters relating to the dog perhaps its members will review the consequences of the day they opened the door but mislaid the key.