Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Chairman's Report - 2017 AGM

Chairman’s Report 2017

Dear Member

Our society has enjoyed another eventful and I believe successful year fulfilling most of our aims as described in our constitution.

We have had a full calendar of trials which started, as usual, with a nursery and novice series of trials some of which again saw the introduction of the cradle class. All these trials were well organized and enjoyed by all who came and the series culminated with a Nursery/Novice Championship held in April. Our society was again able to enter a team for the National Nursery finals and incidentally these trials will be hosted within our region next February so I ask members to watch for this as help will be particularly required at that event.

As a reminder to members, all new competitors in these cradle /nursery trials should have passed their working test. This has to a greater extent achieved its aim by ensuring that all handlers have basic control of their dogs and are aware of the rules and etiquette of trialling before competing.

As was discussed at last year’s AGM, some novice handler working trial events were organised which have built upon the training initiative started by Caitlin Jenkins, and again these were enjoyed by all who attended. We have also provided a number of demonstrations namely at the wool fair Ickworth Park and the Easton and Otley college open day as well as our usual Sheepdogs at work demonstration held at the Suffolk Show. The demonstrations held at the Wool Fair in particular attracted a large crowd of interested spectators who enjoyed watching the dogs work a small flock of sheep and had lots of questions. We also continue to have a number of our members who regularly do demonstrations or indeed deliver training to those who are interested in working dogs in general.

Our summer series of open trials were similar to the previous year with the exception of the Ickworth Wool Fair trial being replaced by a demonstration and an open trial being held instead at the Rural Pastimes event at Euston which was very well received by the event organisers. It is expected that we will follow a similar format of trials in the year to come. It was a disappointment that we did not have enough support to hold our own EASS championship or manage to raise a team to compete at the inter-society trials held in this year in Sussex.

It’s been another exciting year for our handlers who have been competing at trials with great success throughout the UK. A number of our members had the pleasure of supporting Ed Hawkins as he competed at the World Trial held in Europe for the first time. He did himself and our society proud by qualifying for the semi final where he had a very creditable run completing the course. It was a point of great interest to me to see how competent the continental handlers have become and the growing interest in working sheepdogs in Europe generally.

Although not exactly society business, it would be churlish not to mention the English National held at Haughley Park in July. Many of our members were heavily involved in this event which was acclaimed by many as a great success and something that all those involved with it should be proud of. The cream of English handlers competed on what was reported as a‘great course with brilliant sheep’ that fairly tested the best.

Again, we were able to witness a number of EASS members competing, all of whom gave a very good account of themselves, the icing on the cake was to see Ed Hawkins and Troy have a great run and qualifying to compete at the International as part of the English team.

My congratulations go to all those members who have had success with their dogs during this last year.

On a more sombre note I must report to you that Elaine Bell who for many years has been our archivist has been forced to retire through recent ill health. Her role has, with Elaine’s blessing, be taken over by Kath Perry who will be assisted I understand by Caitlin Jenkins.

It is Elaine’s great wish that this wonderful record of our activities be maintain so can I urge every member to help in this regard by passing on to Kath all relevant items, news cutting, and indeed photos of all sheepdog activities within East Anglia for her to collate and preserve.

I wish to publicly thank Elaine for all her work over the years and to report to you that she has been awarded at the committees’ behest the honour of Honorary Member.

It is still my view that we should concentrate on the quality of our trials as opposed to quantity, particularly as the bulk of the work falls to so few. There is also a responsibility on all members to try to help and in particular in taking a fair turn at putting out sheep. This off course a condition of entry but how sheep are put out makes such a difference to the trial particularly when the sheep are difficult. I can only urge all competitors to try their best in this regard.

I hope that our society will continue to reach out to everyday shepherds who just want a decent working dog, and help them if we can. Our aim is to make the society relevant to all with an interest in working sheepdogs. I believe that our society should be more than just a mechanism to organise sheepdog trials.

We can all benefit from the support and encouragement that other like minded people can give us and this is of course true whatever your level or interest in sheepdogs is. However, as I have already mentioned, the level of commitment in hosting and organising trials is falling on far too few shoulders, and if this is to continue, more people must come forward to help in all aspects of organising our programme of events. We have not been good at devolving responsibility and maybe this is our biggest challenge, to all be pulling in one direction towards a common goal. I am aware that this is a very ambitious aim, but like all things in life, you only get out what you put in, so I urge all members, who can, to help in some way.

We have managed to maintain a healthy level of membership which stands at between 80 90 members, keeping in contact with our members and offering some practical benefits for being part of our society is something we still need to address. However when I log on to face- book and see results, reports and photographs almost immediately after the event I can see that this is the way forward and I can only urge all members to familiarise themselves with our face book page and website and I thank those members who have actively kept them ‘in the moment’.

I would like to thank all the members who have helped at trials or our events in whatever way. It is you who have made, by your contribution, these events successful. In particular I want to thank the members of the committee who have helped me, particularly with their council, and have been active in their support at our events. I can confirm to you that much debate goes on about how to make thing better for all members.

Much of the administration is done unseen and I would particularly like to thank our secretary Meg Wilson, treasurer, Kath Perry, and Grace Baldry for their work during the past year.

We will be calling for nominations to our committee but please reflect that the role of the committee member is proactive and it is actions we need not good intentions. Any person who has good ideas and the confidence to express them will be welcomed.

To conclude, we have, in my view a successful society but to maintain this we need more active support. We must also continue to be vigilant in promoting good sportsmanship and a healthy and inclusive approach at our events. By doing this we will all continue to enjoy this wonderful sport and interest.

Bob Wilden
15th November 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017

An Evenings Discussion about the finer points of judging

OPEN TO ALL MEMBERS and this is a FREE event

To be held Friday 8th December at Stowmarket Rugby Club, Stowmarket, Suffolk, IP14 1SZ

From 7pm til 10pm.

A bar and light refreshments available.

This may be of interest to all competitors, Judges or potential Judges.

We plan to have an informal discussion using visual aids to explore different opinions about how points are lost during sheepdog trials

It would be useful to know numbers so please contact -

Bob Wilden on 07711822704 or Ed Hawkins on 07591342412

if you would like to attend.

Membership Sec., Kath Perry - 01362-860616


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