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Eric Smethurst retires as chairman of the ‘National’

AT THE recent Annual General Meeting of the Birmingham Dog Show Society Ltd, (organisers of the Birmingham National Dog Show), Eric Smethurst, chairman of the society since 1900, stepped aside in favour of Dr Ruth Barbour.

Dr Ruth has had a long association with the National, acting at one time as the society’s medical officer in company with the late John MacDougall, previously chairman of the National, and later to be the chairman of the Kennel Club. Dr Ruth continues a family involvement with the National. Her father, the late Rev Gibson Barbour becoming a member in 1970, and Ruth herself, along with Eric Smethurst in 1987. Dr Ruth was attending the National and stewarding at the show form her early teens. Her appointment as chairman fulfils an unspoken lifetime ambition for Dr Ruth, who will ensure that the forward-looking approach the society brings to the sport continues well into the 21st century.


Eric Smethurst was elected president of the society at the AGM, and commenting on his appointment, Mr Smethurst stated that he had indicated some two years ago that he intended to retire as chairman in favour of a younger person who would be able to chair the society for at least the next decade. In thanking the society for honouring him with the appointment of president, Mr Smethurst said that he hoped he would be able to assist Dr Ruth and the committee in much the same manner as his predecessor Mr John Willmot had, and, especially as had the late John MacDougall, his predecessor as chairman – in both cases being ever available to offer help when asked without interfering with the day-to-day running of the society.

Eric remains a trustee of the society, which has successfully made the move to Stafford after several very expensive years following the necessary departure from Perry Park. The society moved first to Anbury, where the weather and unexpected drainage problems prompted the move to the NEC. The expected costs following the second year at the NEC were such that it would have been unsustainable for the society to remain there. Happily, the move to Stafford has placed the society in a much more realistic financial position, and it is in reaching this state again that has enabled Mr Smethurst to happily hand the stewardship and future success of the society to Dr Ruth.

Other appointments: the society elected Mr Mike Townsend as a member of the Management Committee. Mr Townsend is a member of the Financial and General Purposes Committee of the Kennel Club; a member of the General Committee and chairman of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.

In addition to the four affiliate members of the society (YKC members aged between 18 and 25) the society elected a further two – Gemma Bettis and Adam Rose – Adam’s appointment will be effective from his 18th birthday in December.

In his final address as chairman of the society, Mr Smethurst stressed the advantages of having a team of young people as part of the society. They represented the future.

Mr Smethurst thanked the Management Committee warmly for their support over the years – as a team, he said, they had brought the national through difficult times with good humour and an expertise that can only benefit the younger members as they progress in the society with the senior members as their mentors.