Chairman’s Report 6th January 2016

Good evening ladies & gentlemen and honoured guests, Mrs. Jennie Loriston Clarke, Mr Nick Turner and Mrs Lynn Petersen.  This AGM & Dinner is a milestone for the F&I Association as the 30th Anniversary.  In my loft I have paperwork going back to the first year I’ve made a start to prepare it for archiving at the BHS Offices, Abbey Park and would happily have any members as guests at Malsbury Cottage, Co. Wexford if they would help me to finish the task.  The wine and Guinness will flow and there will be ample good food.  Having made a small start there is a wallet going around with some past details in it.

From small beginnings and guided by two very astute Fellows of the BHS Mrs Barbara Slane Fleming and Miss Pat Smallwood the F&I Association was born in 1986 and in that first year there were three discussion days.  As an Association we are always evolving, each Chairman and Secretary has made their mark over the years.  Inside the wallet you’ll find a list of those good people, the history of the F&I Association and of the Pat Smallwood Award and other snippets of information.

In 2013 insurance was put into place as up until then it had been a case of fingers crossed and depending on the good nature of humankind!  The same year our Facebook page was instigated by Sam Champney Warrener and goes from strength to strength keeping us all informed.  Also in 2013 we were allocated a page in the British Horse Magazine, this page is now back in the safe hands of Jo Winfield who will be asking for future articles from any of us and proof reading them prior to publication.

2014 the updating of the website by Sally Newcomb means we can now market ourselves more efficiently to the public. As the Association progressed from those three discussion days in 1986 we expanded in to Ireland under the care of Faith Ponsonby and grew evermore across the UK thanks in part to social media helping to keep members informed and members own input and enthusiasm. Scotland came under the care of Erik Mackechnie and our days became much more diverse as the reports show.

2015 saw a change of rep for Northern England to Sue Ricketts.

However, last year we lost three dear friends and colleagues.  It came as a great shock when in April Margot Tiffany collapsed and died at her home.  To many of us Margot was not just a colleague but a friend – an icon to emulate and look up to when working alongside her.  She had a talent for ensuring an exam day ran smoothly whilst the candidates, venue manager and staff and the assessors left the day feeling positive with a smile on their faces.  Margot was BHS through and through and worked tirelessly for the Society in many different facets.

Helen Barton Smith was known for her commitment towards all her pupils and especially young riders and their ponies.  Pippen EC was a family run concern and when it was closed in 2014 Helen went to work with Darrel Scaife as the Assistant Director of Riding at Stonar School. Having settled into her new job and having made “a huge impact” to quote Darrel, Helen was awarded the Silver Stirrup Award. This award is now known as the Helen Barton Smith Silver Stirrup Award recognising an affinity for coaching young riders/children with their horses/ponies. Helen was diagnosed with cancer and sadly died in June aged only 49.

Gill Drew died in December aged 76.  Many will remember that quiet, wise BHS examiner who guided candidates and, at the time, young examiners like myself through the exam day with empathy and sympathy.  Gill was also a retired BD List 1 judge and her horse Gazel was successfully competed after Gill’s retirement at prix st georges and with para dressage riders.

Alison Craig has been instrumental in speaking with Alec Copeland BHS Director of Education (who will be with us as a guest tomorrow) to acquire the name tags and pin badges, these have come as part of the BHS present to the Association for our 30th Anniversary along with the cheese and biscuits and port at the end of the evening.  I feel this now calls for a show of hands to Lynn (BHS CEO) and the BHS.  Alison has also taken a very careful look at the Constitution and will be addressing this more fully in item 1 of AOB.  Whilst following our last committee meeting there is a new Award to be presented later this evening.

There is a card being circulated which I intend to send to our president Barbara Slane Fleming please do sign it, I did write to Barbara inviting her to attend this evening but in the knowledge that it would be a very long journey for her.

Congratulations are due to two gentlemen who’ve faced the challenges of the Fellowship examination and been successful our own Danny Anholt General Fellowship and Nick Gauntlet Eventing.  Very Well Done.  Congratulations are due to Mark Cunliffe and Shota Niikura on passing their BHSI both have joined the Association for their first free year and Mark is riding here with Jennie.

I must thank Sam York for the preparation this evening to the tables for the entertainment later and for getting us all “in the pink”. You’ll see there is a ‘photo booth’ and you can all get your mug shots done later!!   Thank you to Ann for co-ordinating the two days I don’t think any of us have any real idea just how much work Ann puts into this Course for us.  I just see emails regarding when she’ll arrive today to put up jumps and how many to dinner, which I know is very minimal compared to what is done behind the scenes. Nick has provided ‘observation’ sheets for the audience watching the jumping sessions.

2016 the 30th Anniversary has started with a BANG!  So now I may take this opportunity to thank our Coaches Jennie and Nick for their inspirational work here today, as ever so generous with their time and wealth of knowledge.  We all look forward to more of the same tomorrow.