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SKC from rule-bound to customer-focused

Over 100 members attended the annual meeting of The Scottish Kennel Club a week last Thursday.

The meeting itself was not a long affair due in no small part to the excellent Annual Report which each member receives prior to the meeting. This extends to fifty two pages, giving a detailed account of the Club’s activities over the past year and leaving little for the members to ask about at the meeting.

Much of the attention was therefore devoted to the future and SKC Convener, Robert Crawford (pictured left), concentrated on this in his remarks. He emphasised that the club was entering a difficult period as far as finaces are concerned but one of the keys to future success was the change from a sport bound by rules and regulations to one which is truly customer - focused. All nine members of the Executive Council, standing for re-election were returned to office for a futher three years and they were joined by three new members, John Connor, Margaret Henderson and Kathy Ryan.

Convener's remarks

‘Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my sad duty to report the death earlier this year of one of our Executive Council members, the Rev Jim Peat.

As most of you will know, Jim served the Scottish Kennel Club for many years, both as a Trustee and Council member as well as serving on all of the standing committees. He also had terms of office as Chief Steward and as Vice-Convener and was extremely well-known and very well regarded in the wider community, he will be sadly missed.

It is also with great regret that I report the deaths of the following members during the past year:

Mr. K. Brodie; Miss E.E. Denford; Mrs. I.J.M. Miller;
Mrs. M.P. Turnbull; Mrs. R. Urie; Mr. H. Wheeler; Mrs. E. Williams
The past year has been characterised as one of consolidation following the events of 2001.
That, I believe has been reflected in the activities and outcomes of the Scottish Kennel Club. Over the year, we have consolidated our position and re-introduced events that had to be cancelled the previous year. In total, we held nine events comprising:

Two General Championship Shows, including Championship Obedience
Beginners' Obedience Competition
Two Agility Shows
A Working Trial
Scottish Working Trial Dog of The Year
Scottish Junior Handler of the Year
And Scottish Show Dog of the Year

We should recognise the immense contribution made by all those who help bring these events to fruition. They are quality events which underpin the quality of the Scottish canine scene.

Indeed it would be remiss of me not, at this point, to congratulate all those dogs from Scotland who have achieved huge success in the wider UK context over the past year and especially to congratulate Bert Easdon on his wonderful Best in Show win at Crufts earlier this year.

Executive Council report

You have, as always, received a very full report from the Executive Council. I don't intend to go over it in detail as I wish to spend a little time on the future rather than on the past.
However, there are a couple of aspects that I think are worthy of specific mention.

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 shows a strong position.

However, the Net Current position is less healthy. Whilst it has shown improvement from the prior year, this is mainly as a result of realising some of our investments. Whilst not at all critical at present, this is a situation to which we will need to pay careful attention.

The Budget for this current year is no less challenging and I have asked for an interim review to take place before the half-year. The questions we must ask ourselves are:

are we making the most of our current income streams?
are there new income streams that we should be exploring?
are we receiving proper recompense for the work we carry out on behalf of The Kennel Club?
are there any costs that we could take out?

Successes

But we shouldn't let these matters cloud our perception of the successes that the club has achieved such as:
increased number of events held
increased entries at our Representative May show
5% of entries now being taken online and increasing
a 68% increase in our Judges Register. This is becoming a major source for show secretaries seeking Judges and is a major benefit to our members.
a 37% increase in sales of Puppy Packs over last year which was in itself a 22% increase over the previous year
this demonstrates the power and importance of SKC's Breeders Register as the prime source of pedigree dogs in Scotland. It is an important element in meeting the specific Object of improving the well-being of dogs in Scotland as customers know that these Breeders have signed up to its stipulations. It is heartening to see that moves are afoot in other parts of the UK to introduce a similar system.

The future

Clearly, there is a need to promote canine activities in order to retain our existing customers and attract new ones. The Kennel Club has taken some much needed steps towards this and no doubt more initiatives will be forthcoming.

Rules and regulations

My own view is that a more fundamental review of the show scene is necessary to ensure its survival and its development. Nowadays, there are a multitude of activities competing for our attention. Activities that are simple to take part in and just as enjoyable as showing dogs. So, our competition is not amongst our own clubs and societies but is with those other activities.

I believe that we need to move from being a rule-bound, regulation-driven activity where people can be fined for inadvertently falling foul of an administrative requirement to being truly customer-focused.

So, whilst ensuring that we adhere to and apply current Rules and Policies, Scottish Kennel Club will also lobby to achieve change, where it is appropriate. There should be debate on such issues as benching at shows, fines for late licence applications, fines for administrative errors etc. We should be concentrating on how to make dog shows a fun place to be and come back to.

SKC has taken three important decisions to help Clubs:

To encourage entries at Open Shows, we have launched an Open Show Dog of the Year Competition and you can read the detail in the Annual report

We have also adopted a flexible policy towards whether or not Scottish Clubs can have two Open Shows per year. If, for 2004, using Year 2000 figures would be beneficial to the Club or Society, then they can use those. In addition, we will allow them to apply for a second show provisionally in the first instance, so that they can use more recent shows in their calculations. That will ensure, for instance, that Clubs can take action in 2003/early 2004 to help their Class Averages which may be taken into account for any second show in 2004.

Also, as a result of the recent Club Open Forum, we will be suggesting to the Kennel Club that numerically small breed classes are discounted in the calculation of class averages.

The issues that have been sought to be addressed by the recent Kennel Club changes are not so apparent in Scotland, due to our licensing regime and the quality of our shows. So these decisions will ensure that Scottish Societies have the best possible chance of maintaining two Open Shows.

Junior members

The future lies in our current Juniors. So, I'd really like to encourage growth in our Junior Membership which we launched last year. Entry is open to all those between 8 and 18 who want to take part in any of the disciplines. It costs only £7 per year, so could easily be part of a Birthday or Christmas present. How many people here have children or grandchildren in this age group?

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 administrative affairs of the Club running smoothly

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

- to other Committee stalwarts and especially 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 definitely by no means least, to those members who help out in so many ways, especially at the Shows where their assistance is absolutely vital in their smooth running. Without them, we could not run a show.’