22 Oct 2013

Minutes of the S.W.A.G. Committee Meeting held at Homers Farm, Shaftesbury on 22nd October 2013

Committee Members present were:

Richard Beale (RB) – Chairman Di Davies (DD) – Treasurer; Shows Jean Field (JF) – Fibre/Fleece 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: none

3.  Minutes of the last meeting (24th July 2013): approved

4.  Matters arising: RB reported that he had suggested to Peter Roissetter that Kate Humble should be approached for involvement with the BAS following the successful BBC “Wild Shepherdess” documentary.

5.  Treasurers report:

  • Bank balance as at 22nd October 2013: £6106.15
  • Total worth with debtors and creditors accounted for: £5740.07

6.   Committee members reports:

a. From the Chairman: No report

b. Autumn Show, Hand Equestrian Centre, 16-17th November & SWAG AGM

     DD reported the following:

  • There were only 72 entries currently, although many entrants typically come in late so this wasn’t a major concern. It was known that a few of the bigger breeders were not able to attend, and this will bring entry numbers down in general. The budgeting had been performed on an expected 300 entries being made, however many of the costs will vary according to the number of entries.
  • £850 of advertising had been sold so far. Committee members agreed to encourage more advertising from alpaca industry suppliers, the intention being that the catalogue could act as a directory of suppliers.
  • It was agreed that rosettes should be provided for the top 6 places in each class as this provides encouragement and reward for entrants.
  • JM suggested that an advert should be included in the catalogue offering the show’s supply of geotex for sale.
  • In order to avoid confusion and over-spend, it was agreed that one person should be appointed to administer refreshments for the judges and stewards.
  • It had not been possible to book an official photographer within budget. DD commented that Alpaca World and Alpaca Magazine would be able to take their own photographs, as would exhibitors. MS offered to bring a camera and take the photographs of championship ribbon winners.
  • MS and JM offered to help set-up on the Friday before the show.
  • DD provided an action plan for current and future note. DD to email electronic copy to JM.

c. Other Shows 2013:

  • DD reported that she will be standing down from organising the Bath & West Show after 2014.
  • The BAS National Show will be held 15-16th March at The International Centre, Telford (subject to Board approval)
  • The next Futurity will be held in 2015.
  • A new show will be held on 29-30 March at Houghton Hall Equestrian Centre, organised by Alpaca Stud, Bozedown and Houghton Hall Alpacas.
  • JF reported that the alpaca classes at the Honiton show was very well supported and although there were only 39 entries in the halter classes at the North Devon Show, the fleece classes were at capacity.
  • DD and JF advised that it may be possible to get involved in the Glastonbury Wool Festival in 2014.
  • DD reported that no SWAG or BAS member volunteers had come forward to organise alpaca classes at the Melplash Show in Dorset in 2013 as requested by the show organisers. The Committee agreed to contact the SWAG membership again to ask for volunteers for 2014. This show takes place in August.
  • Similarly, the SWAG membership will be contacted to ask for someone to act as Chief Steward at the MidSomerset show in Shepton Mallet (17th Aug 2014), the organisers of which had recently contacted SWAG wishing to include an alpaca show in their event. DD reported that this show is well attended and is growing in size.

d. Programme for 2013/2014: 

         i.  Review: Fibre Day at the Two Rivers Mill

BH attended and reported that the focus of the day was on the process of yarn production and not how the machinery worked. Very clear explanations were given on the differences between semi-worsted and worsted yarn as part of a 2 ½ hour talk and all attendees commented on how much they enjoyed the day. Two Rivers Mill have offered to repeat the day. RB will formally thank them.

ii.  Events for 2014

JF reported that both Sue Blacker from the Natural Fibre Company and Chas and Rachel at Classical MileEnd Alpacas have offered to hold fibre production days. The talk given by Chas (CME) concentrates on breeding for better fibre rather than the mill process. JF reported that CME now organise their own fibre processing for their company, UK Alpaca.

The Committee decided to hold a series of fibre days in 2014 to cover the South West regions:

– “Alpaca Fibre that Creates Value” – 26th January 2014 by CME at Vulscombe Farm in Devon

– “Fibre to Market” – in Feb/March by Jean Field (a practical focus on how to get the fibre out of the barn as opposed to breeding for better fibre)

– 2 mill visits in late March/early April – one to Two Rivers and one to Sue Blacker’s Mill (Natural Fibre Company)

JF to set up the dates; MS to include in upcoming newsletters

The Committee agreed that these fibre days should be held before shearing season with the purpose of encouraging greater focus and knowledge on fibre improvement, processing and production amongst the membership.

DD commented that the show season need not prevent SWAG from holding events throughout the summer. It was agreed to propose that two summer barbecues could be held, one in the east and one in the west of the region. The membership would be asked whether anyone would like to host. BH offered to host one in the east. RB commented that an expert could be invited to give a short talk as part of the event.

e.  Membership & Communication

No report

f.  Marketing, Media and Website

i. BH reported that the new website is now live after much complicated work. More banners, photos and content are required. Everyone agreed that it was a great improvement on the previous website in terms of look and feel.

MS commented that it needed something on the home page to draw people in.

DD commented that more links to the BAS website would be useful.

JM commented that shows and the SWAG programme for 2014 should be added.

RB suggested that MS, BH and JM liaise over increasing content on the website (see previous minutes for details).

ii. MS to produce next newsletter for the end of October.

g.  Health & Welfare

The BAS Committee meeting was now postponed to 3rd November. This will be AW’s first meeting. DD asked AW to enquire for updates on the recovery, transport and involvement guidelines in welfare cases.

BH asked whether there was an advice sheet that could be handed to new owners explaining the minimum expected care they are expected to give to their alpacas. DD advised that Sue Welch (BAS Secretary) can provide the BAS guidelines. These are used in auctioneers catalogues so are available publicly. 

h.  Fibre/Fleece

JF reported that Cameron Holt gave a presentation at the BAS Committee Meeting held 2 weeks ago. The BAS Committee had discussed their remit and agreed that education was their most important aim, along with finding new outlets for fibre.

AW to follow-up on why the list of mills and especially shearers has been removed from the BAS website. It was agreed that AW should suggest that a proviso could be added to the list saying that the BAS is not responsible for the quality of the suppliers, but a list of shearers is necessary on welfare grounds.

7.  AGM 16th November:

RB to do a skeleton outline for the AGM; JM to provide agenda for BH to send out to membership with notice of the meeting JF reported that she would be unable to attend.

It was decided not to hold a raffle.

8.  AOB:

It was agreed that RB should approach the BAS about holding auctions for their membership. These auctions would be BAS controlled and could have different levels, e.g. dispersal, breeding quality etc. It was agreed that BAS-managed auctions could help stimulate and maintain the marketplace for alpacas.

9.  Date of next meeting: 1:00pm, Thursday, 16th January; location: Homers Farm, SP7 0JY