SOUTH WEST ALPACA GROUP CHARTER
Agreed at the SWAG AGM on 20th November 2004
Updated in July 2011
1. The SWAG AGM on 8 November 2003 tasked the Committee to produce a strategy for the Group for consideration at the 2004 AGM. In attempting to fulfil this task, the following document was discussed at the meeting of the SWAG Committee on 17 September 2004. This meeting concluded that the requirement was for a charter i.e. the objectives and operating procedures of the Group, rather than a strategy plan, for the future. Thus it was agreed that the Group should seek to remain independent of the two breed societies of the time, adopting an apolitical position and being prepared to react to potential changes in the coming years. In 2009 the Charter was reviewed following the unification of the British Camelids Association and the British Alpaca Society, which was followed by an almost unanimous vote by SWAG members that the group should become the regional group of the British Alpaca Society and in doing so retain its name of the South West Alpaca Group (SWAG).
2. The South West Alpaca Group (SWAG) was founded in October 2000 to promote and protect the interests of alpaca owners and breeders as well as others interested in alpacas and/or their products (such as vets, fibre processors, fabric designers, etc.) in the South West of England by:
- Sharing information and experience
- Keeping up-to-date with best practice
- Facilitating practical self-help
- Representing members’ interests
- Organising shows, talks, visits, etc.
- Helping to develop the market for alpacas, their fibre and finished products.
3. Membership of the group should be open to alpaca owners, breeders and enthusiasts resident in the South West of England which is defined as the counties of (or parts of) Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Avon, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wright.
4. Although initially envisaged that SWAG would be an informal group, run by its members, for its members, without a formal committee structure, the size of the group has necessitated the formation of an informal organising committee. The Committee will comprise:
- A minimum of three committee members.
The Committee members will all be allocated specific responsibilities and will represent SWAG on the following BAS sub committees:
- Media and Marketing
- Training and Education
- Regional Organisers
5. Members of the Committee will normally serve for a minimum period of two or three years, with changes in the committee membership usually occurring immediately post an AGM. Once a year, prior to the AGM, members will be invited to express an interest in serving on the Committee. The Chairman, advised by members of the current Committee, will form a new management group as appropriate.
6. The Chairman will be appointed by the members of the Committee. The Committee will meet a minimum of two times a year, with the Secretary maintaining formal meeting minutes made available to all SWAG members by publication on the SWAG website or by post on request – this may incur a postal charge.
7. SWAG will hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM), normally in November, to which all members are invited. The date of the AGM is to be publicised well in advance. A full agenda is to be circulated to all members prior to the AGM to encourage attendance and discussion as appropriate. Members who are unable to attend the AGM are invited to express their views in writing to a member of the Committee in advance of the AGM. A record of decisions will be maintained of the AGM for circulation to all members through the website.
The Committee may nominate, for honorary membership, people who have provided outstanding service to the alpaca community in the South West. Such members may be appointed to the posts of President or Vice-president.
8. SWAG is a non-profit making organisation, which is run for the benefit of the members, who will pay an annual subscription covering a single address, payable on 1 January each year. The level of subscription is to be reviewed annually at the AGM, based on a presentation by the Treasurer summarising the balance of income and expenditure over the previous year, concluding with a recommendation of a suitable annual subscription rate by the Committee. The SWAG account is not subject to formal audit but is to be reviewed by a third party, appointed by the Chairman, prior to the AGM to ensure that all entries are correctly recorded and fully documented and that the account ledgers are fully supported by the bank balance. A certificate to this effect, signed by the auditor, is to be furnished to the Chairman prior to the AGM. The Treasurer is to provide a statement of financial affairs at all committee meetings.
9. The Group should seek to maintain sufficient funds to allow the organisation to be financially self-sufficient and to underwrite the financial risk associated with the organisation of a major event, a meeting with an international speaker, a show, sale or auction. In the event of surplus funds being available the cash flow is to be adjusted by:
- An adjustment in the subscription rate.
- A donation to a suitable charity or foundation directly associated with the alpaca industry.
10. SWAG funds are to be held in a dedicated bank account, maintained in a Charities Account, i.e. an interest bearing account that incurs no bank charges. SWAG funds are currently held in a Community Account with Barclays Bank PLC, with the trustees and single signatories being the Treasurer and one SWAG member who holds a personal current account with Barclays.
11. Delegated authority for expenditure per event is as follows:
- Treasurer in support of administrative costs or refunds to members hosting events, to a maximum of £200.
- Chairman to a maximum of £500.
- Committee following the agreement of a minimum of 3 members to a maximum of £1000.
12. The Group will hold an annual programme of events to meet the needs of members. Events will include a range of training days, hosted by members who have facilities appropriate to the event or local facilities, which may include the hire of venues. Training days will cover such subjects as basic husbandry, breeding for quality, fibre management, halter training and showing alpacas, pasture management, processing and finished products and veterinary issues. Member’s views on suitable subjects will be welcome at any time and the demand will be assessed each year at the AGM.
13. Notification of training events will be via the SWAG Newsletter and headed announcements, published electronically, with returns normally co-ordinated by Membership Secretary. Attendance at training events will normally be limited to members only, although guests may attend when space permits. Maximum attendance at each event will be published, as part of the promulgation of details and attendance will be on a first come/book basis. Costs for guests or non-members may be charged at a premium rate. Refunds for non-attendance at training days will only be applicable if cancellation is received not less than 7 days prior to the event to allow for efficient catering. Events should normally be self-funding.
14. Training days where appropriate will include hands on experience and when subjects do not lend themselves to participation, the programme may cover more than one subject including topics of a more general nature.
15. SWAG will organise two shows per year, the Spring or Autumn Show on behalf of the British Alpaca Society and the Alpaca Show in conjunction with the Royal Bath and West of England Show Society Annual Show each June. A separate subcommittee will be formed to organise the Spring Show and the Committee member with responsibility for shows will be represented on the main Bath and West Show Society Committee and will manage the alpaca classes.
16. SWAG will endeavour to assist members in the sale or purchase of alpacas through free advertising in the Newsletter and promotion at shows and events. Consideration will be given to an occasional auction or sales day when animals are gathered at a central location for private sale. Such days will be held with the welfare of the alpacas being the paramount concern and will normally include the opportunity to provide further information of all aspects of the industry.
17. The Membership Secretary will be responsible for the maintenance of a database containing members’ details. This database is to be maintained in accordance with the Data Protection Act and all members will be invited to confirm annually the extent to which they agree for their contact details to be publicised on the SWAG website. Full contact details will only be available to committee members and may not be reproduced or released to other parties.
18. E-mail distribution will be used whenever possible for ease and to reduce administrative costs and environmental impact. SWAG events will also be publicised via the group’s web site www.swagroup.org.uk, sometimes in conjunction with British Alpaca Society updates.
19. Distribution of information from third parties, e g details of shows etc. will be co-ordinated by the Membership Secretary in such a way as to ensure that the integrity of the members’ database is maintained. In such circumstances third parties may be invited to meet additional postage costs incurred.
20. The Editor of the Newsletter is responsible for the production of up to four editions each year, which will form the primary means of communication within the group, and to which all members may contribute. The newsletter will normally include the following:
- Forthcoming events
- Welcome to new members
- Amendments to the contacts list
- Vets notes, husbandry articles
- Reports on recent events
- Classified advertisements, submitted by members which are published free of charge.
The discretion over the suitability of an advertisement for inclusion in the newsletter rests with the Editor who should be aware of the limitations of the e-distribution system to members. Members may also forward hard copies of other information, directly linked to alpacas, to the Secretary for inclusion in a mail shot. The Communications Representative will only undertake such hard copy distribution after formal agreement over any additional costs payable.
21. The web site will include the following information:
- A calendar of known events for the forthcoming year
- Reference articles of interest to members and potential members
- A list of current SWAG members, complete with contact details as requested by members on their renewal forms
- A current list of committee members with contact details
- A list of vets within the SWAG area who are used by SWAG members and therefore should have some knowledge of alpacas
- Advertisements for products or services which may be of interest to SWAG members.
- Links to the British Alpaca Society