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Encouraging youth: how does the UK Toydog Society do it? asks Val Foss

Issue: 19/06/2020

Photo: Alan V Walker

Young dog people are owed a future that they can be part of and can believe in. Their thoughts and ideas ought to be debated with them and acted on with them as a full part of the team. The UK Toydog Society, which runs a deservedly popular Championship Show yearly, does just that so let us learn what they do?
The UK Toydog Society was founded in the early 1970’s. By the mid- 1990’s the committee at that time recognised that they needed to bring on some younger new committee members. Consequently, Rebecca Naylor, Paul Bendelow and Tom Mather were invited to join the committee aged in their 20’s at the time. Rebecca’s sister Angela became one of the Group Stewards too and this set the trend for the years to follow.
Tom Mather became Secretary of the Society in 2000 and by then, Ellis Hulme had been elected Chairman. They both realised that once again additional new blood and younger people were needed to join the committee and to help with the running of the show. The Toy Group has been fortunate to have some talented younger exhibitors and they provided a base to work from.
A Senior Show Team was established, and this gave some youngsters the opportunity to help with the running of the show but without the responsibility of being a full committee member. It gave them the chance to get to know everybody. Some graduated to become full committee members. Whilst others were happy to stay as part of the show team. Study, family, and work commitments must take priority. One year three babies were born to members of the show team and committee.
UK Toy was lucky that some of the founding committee members; Elinor Powell, Dorothy Garlick, Dorothy Dearn and Alan Bendelow were themselves all supportive of the idea of encouraging young people to be part of the team. The present Chairman is David Guy and he along with Tom Mather (Secretary/Treasurer) both feel strongly that new members should be given responsibility and be empowered to make decisions within their role. 
The youngest current committee member is teenager Ryan Ross who is also the Assistant Chief Steward. Chief Steward is Charlotte Roskell (also a Crufts Group Steward). Show Manager Helen Rishworth. The newest committee members are Evan Ryan and Kirsty Miller, Holly Bradford and Maria-Louise Clark are all part of the Senior Show Team. Charlotte McNamara has helped at the show since she was a small child and was a committee member of UK Toydog Society. She now has a very demanding job at the KC so her time was stretched. Everybody was therefore delighted when Charlotte accepted the Society’s invitation to become one of its Vice Presidents.
The Society has proved that its scheme works and keeps youngsters involved in all the different aspects of the world of dogs. Perhaps others should follow suit?

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