Good communication is the key!
Photo: Alan Walker
Gerald King was elected Chairman of Crufts just a few months ago and we felt that our readers would appreciate knowing a little more about the man and his ideas. David Cavill asks the questions
DC: I am sure our readers will be interested in your background. Can you tell us something about your life and interests outside dogs and your current responsibilities?
GK: I sometimes think my life and interests compared to others are somewhat boring, but then I look back at what I have achieved through building a portfolio of skills and interests which enables me to tackle most things.
After an initial spell in the Civil Service and some years in banking, my wife and I emigrated to Australia for several years were I worked for IBM as the production scheduler in the Melbourne area. After returning to the United Kingdom I spent a year as Computer Operations Manager for the Rank Organisation and then returned to IBM where I worked in a number of positions from Sales, Marketing and Sales Training, International Account Manager to a major International Bank and finally Operational Management. In 1993 I took early retirement from IBM, I quickly returned to work for a human resources consultancy and finally retired in 2004.
Outside work I have always had an interest in the development of young people and have served as Vice-Chair of Governors at a Primary School and am currently an Advanced Skills Governor. I am a Business Mentor for the Prince’s Trust. My other interests apart from the dogs are running, motor sport, literature and current affairs.
I have such an involvement with the Kennel Club and other societies I have little time to be involved with anything else at this time!
DC: What importance had dogs in your life prior to your being an exhibitor? Wives tend to feature in this question - I know mine does!
GK: Dogs have been an important part of my life since I was a child. My mother owned a crossbreed collie and when he died, I pestered my parents for a Scottish Terrier but they would not agree to this and they bought a small crossbreed terrier called ‘Buster’. When I met my wife Diana, she owned a Corgi and i immediately took to this breed. When we were living in Australia we had another, which we brought back with us in 1972.
We had showed a little in Australia but it was not until 1978 when we started showing again with a bitch from Patsy Hewan’s Stomerbanks line and this was our foundation bitch for our small kennel of Bimwich in 1981. Since then my wife has gone into partnership with Sarah Taylor and Simon Parsons under the Oregonian kennel name.
When we started attending shows Diana usually handled the dogs and I became interested in the organisational side. I initially started stewarding at various breed club shows and served as assistant show manager at the Welsh Corgi League’s highly successful golden jubilee show in 1988, where I was also in charge of sponsorship. When the show manager retired in 1989 I took over.
I gained more experience of stewarding at open and championship shows and over the years have been a group steward for Windsor, Richmond, Birmingham City and served as show manager for City. I am currently a Group Steward at LKA and Chief Steward for Windsor.
DC: You have taken on a number of roles at the Kennel Club. What are your responsibilities and which role do you most enjoy?
GK: I have been a member of the General Committee since 2003 and currently sit on the Finance & General Purposes Sub-Committee, Chairman of Crufts Sub-Committee, Director of Kennel Club Services Ltd, Chairman of the Kennel Club Training Board, Chairman of the Kennel Club Educational Trust, Kennel Club Pension Trustee, member of the YKC Management Team and Discover Dogs Management Team, Chairman of the Safe and Sound Working Party.
I enjoy all the roles I do, as they require different skills to meet not only the individual objectives of the committee or board but to ensure they do not come in conflict with the overall objectives of the Kennel Club.
DC: What are your memories of Crufts over the years?
GK: Crufts has many memories over the years both happy and sad for which I could write a book, but as this involves people who are still alive I will do this in the future. There is however one memory that always sticks in my mind and that was the year I took over responsibility for the show rings from Terry Thorn.
I was in the Stewards Office when a message came through that the referee was required for a ring in Hall 1 to decide on Best of Breed. On checking the ring and breed, I found that this was not a breed with one judge for each sex but only one judge, judging both sexes. I then went to the ring and diplomatically told the judge that they had to make the decision on the Best of Breed!
DC: Do you feel you have become Chairman of Crufts at a particularly difficult time given the change of sponsor, TV company and the extra media pressure?
GK: I personally do not think I have become Chairman of Crufts at a particularly difficult time, challenging yes, but difficult no. Crufts like any organisation or institute goes through change at sometime. The last time that Crufts went through change was the move from Earls Court to the NEC. The change of sponsorship and TV company gives us the opportunity to take back control and start to implement some of the thoughts and ideas that we have had for some years to ensure that Crufts remains the greatest quality dog show in the world.
DC: You are Chief Steward at Windsor and also give tickets in Pembroke Corgis. Do you enjoy judging other breeds? If you do, will you continue to do so as Chairman of Crufts?
GK: My main interest is in the organisational side of dog activities, but I do enjoy judging other breeds. However apart from the Pembroke Corgi the only breed I regularly judge is the Cardigan Corgi (without tickets) and I will continue to do this.
DC: Are there any changes you would like to see in the way dogs are shown and judged in the UK? ie: Benching, Champions Classes, 75 year rule, changes in judging criteria?
GK: When we ran the briefing on canine health and welfare and the regulations at Crufts this year for all judges, it highlighted to me the need for all judges to attend a refresher course on regulations and on the breeds they judge every three years. I regularly run Ring Stewarding seminars and I find that a number are prepared to come every two to three years to be updated on regulations and best practice.
DC: Are there any regulations you feel could be usefully brought in and any you feel could be deleted or abandoned?
GK: The one regulation that I feel could be deleted is F(1) 19. Cooking Stoves! The only time I have seen cooking stoves being used was not at a dog show but flying with Middle East Airlines when I worked for IBM and the locals got on the aircraft and when it took-off starting brewing up in the aisle of the plane!
DC: Do you feel that although we should continue to be on our guard, the Kennel Club has succeeded in taking the sting out of the breeding pedigree dogs debate?
GK: We should continue to be on our guard although the Kennel Club has succeeded at this time in taking the sting out of the breeding of pedigree dogs debate, it has not gone away. All the time certain breeds do not recognise the need to change, the RSPCA and other politically motivated individuals and organisations will continue to attack and criticise us.
To counteract any further criticism or attack on pedigree dogs all breeders should join the Accredited Breeders Scheme. This will ensure we have a standard of husbandry that is best practice in both breeding and the care of dogs that produces ‘Happy Healthy Dogs’ so the whole world of dogs cannot be attacked.
DC: Are there any further moves you like to see in respect of Kennel Club reform?
GK: I would like to see the expansion of membership of the Kennel Club, so it represents the views of all people who have an interest in canine activities and the promotion in every way of the health and welfare of dogs, that would be a great step forward.
DC: Do you feel that the KC should continue to try to represent the whole world of dogs or has it, perhaps, spread itself too thinly over the past few years?
GK: The Kennel Club should continue to represent the whole world of dogs. Over the past few years it has brought people onto the staff and the General Committee who can help maintain this through contact at National and Local Government level, animal charities and the veterinary profession. It is important that there is a single voice to represent all in the world of dogs otherwise we end up with a fragmented view, each with its own agenda on what needs to be done.
DC: You are currently Chairman of the Training Board. How important is this training to the Kennel Club?
GK: The Training Board is extremely important to the Kennel Club in achieving its objective of ‘encouraging the development of all those concerned with dogs through education and training’. The Training Board was formed in 2002 and in the past eight years, the Kennel Club’s role in the training of those involved in the various Kennel Club regulated disciplines has expanded as has the commitment to training.
The establishment of the Kennel Club Educational Trust as a charity in 2007, together with the investment in a permanent facility at the Royal Agricultural Society of England Showground shows the commitment to education.
In summary I would say that the skills, experiences and interests I have developed enable me to bring to the role of Chairman of Crufts, skills of project management, analytical skills and probably the most important that of good communication and man management skills with all types of people.
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