16 Jan 2014


Minutes of the S.W.A.G. Committee Meeting held at Homers Farm, Shaftesbury on 16th January 2014

Committee Members present were:

Richard Beale (RB) – Chairman

Di Davies (DD) – Treasurer; Shows

Barbara Humphreys (BH) – Membership Secretary

Jo McManus (JM) – Secretary

Mark Steele (MS) – Newsletter, Training & Education

Andy Walker (AW) – Health & Welfare

1. Welcome: BH was thanked for hosting the meeting

2. Apologies: Jean Field (JF) – Fibre/Fleece

3. Minutes of the last meeting (22nd Oct 2013): approved

4. Matters arising:

  • RB commented that he had accepted Jean Field’s resignation from the SWAG Committee due to family circumstances. RB had forwarded the committee’s heartfelt thanks for all her work and had said that she would be welcome back at any time in the future. The committee agreed that Jean is a huge contributor to the alpaca industry and she will be missed. The committee also noted that Dawn Crawford had offered to step in as SWAG’s fibre representative on the BAS Committee and were extremely grateful for her help and involvement.
  • BH offered to attend the BAS Fibre Committee meeting on the 18th January on behalf of SWAG in the absence of JF.
  • JM commented that SWAG was currently experiencing a crisis with the lack of volunteer help and membership involvement. DD commented that factors such as the current economic climate, an aging membership and SWAG covering a large geographical area could all be contributory. The committee noted that it was probably a nationwide problem.
  • JM suggested that a sociable day be held for members with the aim of getting feedback from the membership on what they wanted from SWAG, as well as asking for more volunteers to help organise events and/or become committee members. The committee agreed this would be a good idea and that lunch should be provided for free. It was suggested that the day be called a “chukka” after the Peruvian alpaca round-ups.
  • RB commented that BAS were not engaging their membership as much as they might especially with regard to fibre production and use. DD noted that the organisation of the National Show was currently taking up much of their time.
  • RB expressed disappointment that no TB management procedures had not yet been agreed.
  • BH reported that the fibre day at Classical MileEnd Alpacas organised for 26th January only had 9 confirmed attendees (2 of these being SWAG Committee members). A minimum of 15 attendees were required to make the event viable. BH had increased publicity to encourage more attendees but if not enough were forthcoming then it would be postponed to a future date (13th April was suggested). BH noted that it was a shame not more people had not wanted or been able to attend, especially as feedback from members on their renewal forms was often to learn more about fibre.

5. Treasurers report:

  • Bank balance as at 16th Jan 2014: £ 6862.57
  • Creditors: £ 440
  • Debtors: £ 86.08
  • Total worth with debtors and creditors accounted for: £7216.49

AW noted that the bank balance had increased by @£700 since the last Committee meeting and this was an excellent achievement by DD as organiser of the SWAG Autumn Show which had taken place in November 2013 and which had not indebted SWAG funds.

6. Committee members reports:

a. From the Chairman: RB reported that the AGM (held after the Autumn Show on 16th November) had gone well under the circumstances (i.e. a low number of attendees). RB agreed with comments made previously by JM about lack of membership involvement with SWAG and expressed surprise that he never gets calls from members asking for help.

b. Review of the Autumn Show – 16th November 2013

DD provided the following report of the show. RB commented that it had been a good show that had unfortunately not received enough support or organisational help for DD.

The Show took place at the Hand Equestrian Centre, Clevedon, North Somerset on Saturday 16 November 2013.   This was the third time that the Centre had hosted an alpaca show.   Planning for the show was based on experiences from running Alpaca 2012, a two day show attracting 350 entries at the same location.   The budget was based on 300 entries with a breakeven point of 250.  The show only attracted 173 entries, with a variety of reasons for the disappointing entry being suggested:

  •  A large number of herds who had participated in Alpaca 2012, linked to the World Alpaca Conference, did not enter.
  • A number of normally large show teams did not take part – Bozedown. Classical MileEnd, EP Cambridge and Moonsbrook, to name but a few.
  •  Holding a show in the Autumn significantly reduces the number of entries in the junior classes.
  • The number of entries in female classes was significantly lower, with a number of breeders choosing not to show pregnant females during the early stages of their pregnancy.

The decision that the show was to be a festival of all things alpaca for those interested in alpaca rather than targeting the general public, with reduced rates for trade stands ( £50 for a two day trade stand and £50 for full page ad in the catalogue) and craft tables for £10 per day.  Despite these reduced rates the take up was disappointing, compounding the problems of balancing the budget;

The results of the actual v forecast income was as follows:
















– 2540

– 508




– 450





Trade stands




Craft Tables













In consultation with the two judges, Liz Barlow and Val Fullerlove, the shortfall in entries resulted in the decision to reduce the show from two days to one to save exhibitors accommodation costs.  Initial estimates, agreed by the judges were that 173 alpacas could be judged by the two judges, Liz Barlow judging males and Val Fullerlove, in one ring with the published start time of 1000 and an estimated finish time of 1730 hrs, with the AGM due to start at 1800 hrs.  A subsequent review of actual entries by classes resulted in the judges recommending the requirement for two rings and so the schedule was revised to provide two rings, which operated until lunchtime when the Chief Steward recommended that we revert to a single ring.  This resulted in the show over running significantly.

Once the shortfall in funding became apparent where possible savings measures were put in place.  Paul Helps very generously agreed to lend the show organisers an Avant mini loader for the duration of the show, which was a massive help in loading/unloading the hurdles, movement of hurdles to/from the arena and the movement of dumpy bags during the clear up.  Without Paul’s assistance the show would have incurred an additional £500 of costs.  The Hand Equestrian Centre provided a skip resulting in a further saving of £200.   However, fixed costs remained as per the budget. 

HEC Arena Hire 2.5 days






Hurdle Transportation



Rosettes – Rosettes Direct



Grassroots costs



A5 Catalogue with colour inserts


Eco Bed – (5.25 per bale)

48 bales



Geotextile Floor cover £296/roll

3 rolls + £40 del



Tape to secure flooring – 4 rolls


Judges  Costs (travel/fees/accn)


Electrical Installation


Presentation Items


PL Insurance


Admin   Costs  


Total                                                                                                        £6326.83  


The electrical installation was mainly the cost of the electric sockets and cables (£572.26) which now belong to SWAG.

Unfortunately the bills, including VAT, that BAS were asked to pay exceeded the income from entries and fans, as a result of which a bill for £294.91 + £58.98 VAT was raised by BAS.  Despite a very generous donation from Houghton Hall Alpacas the Autumn Show resulted in a cost to SWAG of £192.17.    However, holding the AGM immediately after the show resulted in no additional costs.

Copies of the detailed accounts have been forwarded to SWAG Committee members on 3 Dec 13.

c. Shows in 2014

SWAG Spring Show 2014 / Royal Bath & West 28-31 May

DD noted that it was now too late to organise a SWAG Spring Show for 2014. JM noted that there was no volunteer to organise this show regardless. RB noted that one of the protocols to emerge from a future TB management plan may be to implement a pre-show test for TB and this could provide an extra challenge for future show organisers.

DD reported that BAS judges were currently considering the offer of £100 per day to attend the Bath & West Show. If the judges require £150 per day then 3 days showing would be possible with one day being left for exhibiting. The Bath & West organisers pay expenses but not fees and have requested classes to take place 29-31 May. DD has proposed huacaya classes take place on the Thursday and Friday with suri classes taking place on the Saturday as usual. The show will take place during ½ term. Fibre stands would be available for the cost of an entry fee plus £10 per table. All agreed that this was good value considering the usual cost of trade stands at the Bath & West.

MS suggested that the alpaca show at this year’s Bath & West Show (organised by DD) should act as the SWAG spring show and the committee agreed this would be a good idea, with the intention of keeping the impetus going for a SWAG Spring Show to encourage it’s continuation in future years. RB kindly offered to personally sponsor the show by offering prize money.

Various suggestions were made to encourage new and small-breeder members to participate in the Bath & West Show:

  • DD suggested reinstating the rosettes for highest placed SWAG member in a class
  • BH suggested, for example, having the 3 most successful small breeders winning free matings; MS offered to donate drive-by matings as prizes.
  • BH suggested an alternative idea of having names of small breeders pulled out of a hat in order to win a prize.
  • The committee agreed to think about these ideas and to come up with workable criteria for prizes.

Mid-Somerset Show 17th August – request for chief steward JM reported that despite publicising this request in the SWAG newsletters and at the AGM, no members had come forward to volunteer. The show organiser had suggested that as an alternative that members could bring along alpacas to display. JM commented that this may incur a trade stand charge for members and that she would establish the cost and arrangements and let MS know in order to get information to the members in the next newsletter (due end of January).

d. Programme for 2014:

i26th Jan – ‘Alpaca Fibre that Creates Value’ at CME Already discussed – see above

ii. Mill Visits

A visit to Blackers Mill (Natural Fibre Company) had been booked for 10th June at a cost of £5 per head for a maximum of 15 people. It was decided that another visit to Two Rivers Mill would be booked for later in the year.

e. Membership & Communication

BH reported that there had been 22 household renewals so far for 2014.

DD asked whether SWAG had passed membership data onto any third parties, BH confirmed that this had never been done.

f.   Marketing, Media and Website

i. Progress on the new website

BH suggested that a “Farm Focus” section be added to the website whereby members were invited to write an article about their farm. A new article could be posted every month or two. MS suggested having the articles written in the style of news reports and giving the option of having it written for them by himself if they wished. MS to advertise this opportunity in the next newsletter.

BH suggested that a SWAG presence be developed on social media, namely Facebook and Twitter. JM and MS commented that they found Facebook to be a useful and supportive medium. MS offered to create a Facebook page for SWAG.

ii. The next newsletter (due end of January) RB offered to contribute to the newsletter in his capacity as SWAG Chairman as usual.

g. Health & Welfare

AW had no report.

DD reported that the Code of Welfare is now available and is an excellent guide. It will shortly be published on the BAS website. RB commented that this document could be used as a benchmark for judging cruelty to alpacas and as a benchmark for DEFRA when dealing with the BAS. It is a very important document and illustrates professionalism and responsibility within the alpaca industry. RB also commented that the BAS had not yet contacted the membership about the Code of Welfare and that communication about its purpose is required, just putting it up on the website will be inadequate. RB advised that once the new TB protocols were announced then two meetings should be set-up for SWAG members across the region in order to explain the protocols and build confidence within the membership in their use. 

h. Fibre/Fleece

No report.

7. AOB:

RB suggested that farm visits could be organised where a confident breeder could act as a judge on their own animals, with all attendees taking part. This is called a “stock judging” in the cattle industry. MS commented that this would involve people in productive discussions and would give members the opportunity of having a go at judging (whether they be hosting the event or just attending).

DD noted that events and activities can be advertised on the BAS website for free unless they are private initiatives for which there is a £50 charge. RB commented that advertising for private initiatives should be free as this is what drives the alpaca industry and BAS should be more supportive of the membership.

RB reminded the committee that a new Chairperson would be needed by the end of June

8. Date of next meeting:

Next meeting 1:00pm, 15th April; by invitation of Andy Walker at Lower Throop Farm, Throop Road, Templecombe, Somerset BA8 0HR