10 Jan 2013

Minutes of the S.W.A.G. Committee Meeting held at Homers Farm, Hartgrove nr. Shaftesbury on Thursday 10th Jan 2013

Committee Members present were:

Richard Beale (RB) – Chairman
Di Davies (DD) – Treasurer; Shows
Barbara Humphreys (BH) – Membership Secretary; Fibre (contact for Jean Field)
Jo McManus (JM) – Secretary
Mark Steele (MS)
Andy Walker (AW)

1. Welcome

RB welcomed new SWAG committee members: Mark Steele and Andy Walker

2. Apologies received from:
Tim Hey (TH)

3. Minutes of the last meeting (11th Oct 2012 & AGM Nov 2012): approved

4. Matters arising: none

5. Treasurers report:

· Bank balance as at 10th Jan 2013: £5956.63

o Outstanding credits:

+ £30 (2 subscriptions had been received)
+ £90 for a Year Book advert
+ £693 reimbursement due from the Hydrogen Power Solutions after a double payment for electricity

o Outstanding debits: none

· The Treasurer reported that £600 was received from sales of the geotex left over from the Spring Show in 2012, contributing to its £1100 cost.

· The 2012 AGM cost SWAG £283. A cheque for the £64 raised by the raffle at the AGM has been sent to the Royal British Legion and a receipt has been received.

6. Committee members reports:

a. From the Chairman

RB felt that the AGM had been a success.

The committee hoped that some former members from Devon and Cornwall would return to SWAG in 2013.

RB noted that the question of whether DEFRA would change the classification of camelids to livestock was raised again at the AGM by Richard Gubb. RB had re-iterated at the AGM that the classification was not going to be changed and he now hoped this question had been answered.

b. Shows for 2013

DD reported the following:

a. Organisation for the National Show (11-12 May) is going ahead. The Bury Equestrian Centre is a fabulous facility with a main arena the same size as at the Hand Equestrian Centre. It also has three smaller arenas which join directly to the main one. Alpacas will be penned in two of these smaller arenas with a farmers market being held in the third. There will be two show rings in the main arena with Val Fullerlove judging the females and Liz Barlow judging the males. A third show ring will hold agility and handling classes along with Camelidynamics demonstrations. Alpacas can also be penned in 12×12 stables but owners will have to supply their own hurdles to sub-divide stables. Geotex will be used again under the pens in the indoor arena as it helped speed up clearing. Craft and fleece shows will be held in excellent portacabins overlooking the main arena. The Equestrian Centre is holding a Gala night on the Saturday which is expected to bring in members of the public and which will include events such as camel racing. DD suggested that visitors to the show book accommodation soon in order to make use of New Year deals. AW advised that there were 3 popular chain hotels on the A5 at Markyate, 6-7 miles away from the Centre.

b. DD had visited the Bath and West Show (29th May – 1st June) organising team the previous week and could confirm that the show is going ahead. The halter class programme will be as follows:

29th May – Junior huacaya, sires progeny, junior handlers (huacaya)
30th May – Intermediate huacaya, dams progeny, multis & whethers
31st May – Adult & senior huacaya, supreme champion
1st June – All suri

Judges: Mary Jo Smith (huacaya), Dominic Lane tbc (suri)

As for last year there will be a ½ hour slot in the countryside ring at 4pm each day in order for the public to view winning alpacas. An introduction to alpacas will also be given.

Craft tables are available on days 2, 3 and 4. Craft table holders must either be showing alpacas or pay a daily fee. This fee will cover the entry fee to the showground plus a charge for their table. Bath and West Show Society are not prepared to offer free entry for those not showing alpacas. (The cost of a trade stand at the show is £200+)

DD noted that trade people visited the alpaca area early in the morning and also visited the 4pm parades, adding to the general footfall.

The Committee decided not to hold a fleece show at the Bath & West in 2013 as the National Show would have been held 2 weeks prior and the Devon County 1 week prior, and the Committee felt SWAG ought to be supportive of these shows by not providing competition for fleece-entries.

DD would be offering the catalogue’s back-page advert space to Armitage Insurance, as well as inviting them to be the show’s sponsor. For this show, SWAG funds the production of the catalogues. It also funds 50p per alpaca entry and the judges’ costs. It is envisaged that advertising and sponsorship will cover all these costs.

DD noted that last year visitor numbers were 25,000 down due to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations resulting in schools half terms being moved to a week after the show.

DD also proposed that she ask Patricia Ackroyd (Ackroyd & Dawson) to hold a fleece collection at the show. The quarantine stables could be used as a fleece collection point. DD agreed to check with the show organisers before going ahead with this.

c. DD confirmed that the Hand Equestrian Centre is available for the Autumn Show (16-17 Nov, with set-up taking place on Friday 15th). The concept will be exactly the same as for the Spring Show held in 2012. Electricity costs will be covered by the re-imbursement due to SWAG from Hydrogen Power Solutions (see Treasurer’s report). There will not be a formal function staged on the Saturday night as this was costly for SWAG in 2012 and not well-supported. Confirmation of the BAS payment of VAT costs is required. Geotex, penning and cabling for individual fans will be provided. A telehandler will be employed in order to avoid having to borrow tractors from neighbouring farmers. Fred Ellis will be the Quartermaster. Two show rings will be provided, one situated where the fleece display was staged in 2012. DD proposed that there would be no fleece display or show for 2013 as the Autumn Show would be held 2 weeks after the Scottish National where many fleeces are sent straight from the Heart of England Show (the BAS autumn show).

RB commented that the Autumn Show should provide a platform on which to show members and owners in the South West what the modern alpaca is all about.

At the 2012 Spring Show, trade stands provided @ £930 in revenue and there had been no sponsorship at this show. The Committee discussed which trade stands should be invited to attend the Autumn Show and it was felt that most commercial traders would not want to pay the stand fees when there would be so little public footfall. It was felt however that specialist alpaca suppliers (e.g. JJ Animal Health, Homestead Farm Supplies) could be invited to take a trade stand and also offered an advert in the catalogue for a reduced rate. RB commented that the aim should be to provide a professional alpaca show with professional suppliers.

The committee agreed that an autumn show would provide the opportunity for owners and breeders to show new fleeces for the first time after shearing and that this would give a unique purpose to the show and should be used in any marketing material.

c. Programme for 2013:

i. TB Day – Feb: RB confirmed that DEFRA were not introducing new rules for the governance and movement of alpacas, this was possibly due to the productive dialogue that was now taking place between the alpaca community and DEFRA via the Camelid Forum.

ii. Fleece & Fibre Day – late March: during discussion on the content of the day, RB commented that an example of a mid-90s alpaca could be compared with a high-quality alpaca of the 2010s. A demonstration should be provided of how to prepare a fleece and attendees could bring their own fleeces to prepare. A shearing demonstration should be arranged and 3-4 people could talk about their experiences of turning fleece into a viable product. The Committee agreed it would also be beneficial to provide information on the different types of fibre processing (worsted, semi-worsted etc) as well how to choose which method to use. JM agreed to talk about her experience of creating hand-made products and selling on-line and at craft fairs during the autumn of 2012.

Carol Eyre had previously offered her premises for the day and DD agreed to contact her to confirm a date, proposed for 24th March. DD commented that Carol has a large barn which could be used for the day, with her farmhouse 1 ½ miles away which could be used to provide wash-up and lunch facilities. It was proposed that outside caterers be used. The cost of this and of speakers should be obtained. DD proposed that she speak with TH in order to progress the organisation of this day.

iii. Herd visit to the Alpaca Stud – 14th April: RB commented that herd visits are common practice in the cattle industry and that he envisaged the day including a general welcome followed by a farm walk where stock and land management were discussed. Following this herd sires would be available to handle and information on the breeder’s breeding programme would be provided. Lunch would be provided. RB stressed that this would not be a sales exercise.

iv. Vet day – October: RB proposed that the vet be asked to provide information about disease and parasite prevention. DD suggested she ask her vet from Synergy to participate in this day as the practice are alpaca specialists.

v. Coach provision: DD reported that the organisation of providing a coach for transport to the EGM had been extremely difficult. Problems of fixing a price, pick-up locations and getting a commitment from travellers had exacerbated this. MS and JM felt that the organisational difficulties were prohibitive. The committee agreed that members would be informed via the newsletter that providing a coach for the EGM had not worked and members would be encouraged to get together in informal groups to share travel in the future.

d. Communications – role to be appointed

i. MS volunteered to take over production of the quarterly SWAG newsletter with the first newsletter of 2013 due out by the end of January. The following is to be included:

– Programme of events for 2013
– Membership renewal reminder (with a deadline of 2 months after publication of the newsletter)
– A piece from the Chairman (RB to supply)
– If possible, a piece from a vet advising on the medical problems that may result from continued wet weather
– An invitation for members to advertise services via a banner on the SWAG website (at a cost of £50 for two years)
– JM will highlight any other inclusions from the minutes for MS

ii. It was agreed that as BH already manages new memberships and holds a current membership list, the members’ email address database should be passed to her and that she should become communications and membership secretary. This would not necessarily mean that she would be responsible for writing all the email communications to the membership, but just that she would be responsible for sending them out.

e. Membership & Membership list distribution policy
BH described how in the past there have been requests from some members for the members’ email address database, raising the question of whether we should make this list available upon request. Although members email addresses are already published via the yearbook and the SWAG website, the Committee felt that giving out the email address database may lead to members being bombarded with sales emails. It was decided, therefore, that the email address database would not be given out on request, but rather members would be encouraged to advertise their services for free in the quarterly newsletter (which only goes to SWAG members) and also via banners on the SWAG website (at a cost of £50 for two years).

f. Marketing, media and website – role to be appointed
RB volunteered to represent SWAG on the BAS Media & Marketing Committee.

To be discussed at next committee meeting:
– On-going development and maintenance of the SWAG website – role to be appointed
– Marketing ideas for members: brainstorm session

g. Health & Welfare – role to be appointed

The BAS Welfare Committee meets twice a year and AW volunteered to fulfil this role for SWAG and attend the BAS meetings.

RB asked AW to raise the question of whether to cull instead of re-homing welfare cases in order to avoid the transferral of problems and to reduce the burden created by such cases.

h. Fibre/fleece
BH proposed that she contact Jean Field to invite her to become SWAG’s sole official fibre representative on the BAS Fibre Committee, and also to ask Jean to attend SWAG Committee meetings in that capacity. The Committee agreed that she should.

[Afternote: BH was pleased to report that Jean Field has accepted SWAG’s invitation and will be attending the next SWAG Committee meeting]

i. Training & Education – role to be appointed
MS volunteered to fulfil this role for SWAG and attend BAS Education Committee meetings.

7. AOB:
RB commented that the BAS are promoting regional committees via their new website.

DD commented that the BAS are aiming to increase involvement of regional committees at the national level, with regional representatives attending regular national committee meetings. She noted that some of the BAS committees, such as the Media and Marketing Committee, did not meet in 2012.

8. Date of next meeting: 1:00pm, Wednesday, 3rd April 2012 at Homers Farm