Having re read my Report for 2016 I noted the last paragraph stated that the 30th Anniversary Year had started with a ‘BANG’ and so it progressed throughout the year with a plethora of days offered across the UK and Ireland. Even though all did not take place the list of those which were held are around for you to review at your leisure. My apologies to Sue Ricketts for leaving off her two days of Jump/XC training given by Richard Carruthers BHSI.

Once again, this Association continues to offer training and social gatherings to the members and guests. The Survey Monkey put into place by Jo Winfield in association with the Education and Membership departments of the BHS makes very interesting reading. However, I feel we do need to take on board some of the comments regarding membership of the F&I Association in order to continue the development of this elite professional group of people. Approximately 300 people were invited to do the survey and 21% (63) responded, which I understand is a good ratio. As an example of the replies: “There’s nothing in my area. I didn’t know it still existed. It’s cliquey and unfriendly. There should be more days dedicated to CPD updating”, gives an initial negative feeling. But whilst of the 63 replies there were these negative ones there were even more who feel comfortable and positive about how their £20 membership fee is spent and about the events which are organised. There are 74 of us here at dinner this evening the highest number ever, so now is our chance to embrace new members and go back to those who have lapsed to encourage them to re-join. May I make a plea at this point to ask all of you to pay through your bank on an annual SO.

Whilst we do have Reps in certain areas ANYONE may run a day for the Association. Jude, Ann and I are here to help you with the organisation, Di will then send it out to members whilst Sam C W will Facebook the information & Sally Newcomb will put it onto the web site. Days planned for BHS CPD days do need to be run past the Committee first so we can contact BHS these days will then be open to all BHS members requiring to update their CPD status.

We have stood to remember Jo Knowles and Pippa Francis. Obituaries were written for both these ladies by Sue Payne and Donn Collins respectively. As a reminder, Jo Knowles was in Sue Payne’s words ‘A very special Fellow of the BHS’, in her 80’s she died in September of last year. Jo passed the Fellowship examination in November 1954 she was in a group of three successful candidates that year putting her in the first 6 people to gain this great qualification. She then rode at the first Fellows’ Riding Course at Stoneleigh in 1973. A respected author and sculptress she was thrilled to be invited here in 2015 to present Wistful her sculptor of her own horse to Eric Smiley, this has been awarded to recipients of the Pat Smallwood Award over the years.

Pippa Francis, it was a great shock to many of us to learn that Pippa had been taken by that cruel illness, cancer, at only 58 years old. Secretary of this Association from 1995-2000. Pippa’s career spanned from working for the Kelletts’ in Ireland to becoming a lecturer at Warwickshire College alongside her BHS assessing work. She then joined OFSTED as an inspector, a complete career change but as in everything she did Pippa won the hearts of all around her and made as significant a contribution to the education sector has she had to the equestrian world.

Now is the time for me to congratulate various people for their successes this year. Welcome to the new BHSI’s, Carrie Byrom, Ruth Baxter, Katy Partrick, Tessa Ryley, Sally Poppe, Charlotte Tarrant, Michelle Williamson, Debbie Morgan, David Llewellyn, Steve Pryde, and Darah Duggan. These people will have received their invitation from BHS giving them their free year’s membership of the F&I Association. Having spoken to Charlie Pardon from BHS membership, on the 3rd January, we have discussed a more prominent leaflet to go out to each new BHSI in the future telling them of the benefits of membership of this Association and their first free year.

Congratulations to our own Islay Auty FBHS on gaining the Medal of Honour presented by the BEF for her work with young Dressage competitors. Thanks for sharing this lovely medal with us all Islay, please now give us a little more insight into your presentation. Finally, a mention for Carl Hester as the new Honorary Fellow of the BHS.

There is a card circulating, courtesy of Sue Payne, for Helen Webber FBHS, those of you who know and worked with Helen do add a note as Helen is now housebound but sends us her best wishes, anyone else who wishes to sign it then please do.

I now need to thank those people who have been and will be tomorrow busy organising the Study Periods: Sue Payne, Sam York, Carol Bennitt Jenny Ward Lizzel Winter, David Sheerin, Danny Anholt and Nick Turner.
AND NOW!! I don’t think anyone other than possibly her darling husband, Ian, and myself have any idea of the hours spent by Ann in organising these two days for us. In most recent days the emails have been flinging back and forth as horses went lame so spaces became available and then people wanted to swop their times. In the end we resorted to phone calls having bypassed texts and my partner, a Dublin man well able for blasphemy & swearing, was astounded at the language which passed across the Irish Sea. However, I do believe Ann has managed to please everyone.

We have Jeremy to thank for inviting our two Trainers/Coaches for these two days and for the repeat performance next year. Each year I am totally in awe of our Presenters and none more so than this year. It has been wonderful to watch you the riders enjoying what has been on offer today from these talented gentlemen, and tomorrow promises even more delights.