by Tony Jukes
Our first Club meeting this year was our AGM at the Farmers Club when we were given a really interesting and informative talk by Robert Drysdale, the founder of the Westpoint Veterinary practice. They also cover Eastpoint and Northpoint practices. This South East based practice treats large animals only (so impressive that we now use them ourselves as do a number of our members).
Although our Show season was curtailed this year due to the Foot and Mouth outbreak – compliments of Pirbright! – there were nonetheless some good times. In particular, I would like to congratulate our Breed Champions who were Charles and Sally Horrell who took the Championship at both the Herts Show and then East of England. Paul Gunther who was Champion at the South of England. David and Lesley Sapsed, Champion at the Kent Show and at the last Show of this shortened season, it was Joey and Claire Peters who took the Championship at the New Forest Show.
All the Shows in our region were very well supported by members and exhibitors from other Clubs. I thank you all for coming and taking part. I should also like to thank those members who make such an effort to provide the hospitality that involves all of the exhibitors at the end of showing to get together to eat, drink and relax.
In mid June our Group were invited by Michael and Jackie Hind to visit their farm at Mayfield in East Sussex where they successfully run both a herd of pedigree Sussex cattle and a Simmental herd. We were expertly drive around the farm by tractor and trailer to view the animals (remember the rainy season?) and were shown some very good animals. Afterwards, we were treated to a delicious supper in lovely surrounding. Our thanks go to Michael and Jackie for making us so extremely welcome.
At the end of June, we had another farm visit this time to Henry Bonner who farms near to Milton Keynes. Henry runs a mixed farming enterprise which includes 200 suckler cows crossed with Simmental bulls. The progeny were impressive and the whole enterprise was extremely well managed. After a trip around the cattle it was down to the pub for a great Sunday lunch which was enjoyed by all. Our thanks to the Bonner family.
Turning to our annual Herd Competition, our gratitude goes out to Roger Birch for giving his time and expertise to judge for us this year. Thank you to all those who took part and I encourage more members (subject to DEFRA restrictions) to take part in 2008.
Top spot went to Mike and Janet Jones for winning the Champion Herd.
The full results were as follows:- Revelex Cup – Champion Herd C.H. Carter Best Bull or Heifer born 2007 D & L Sapsed Dam and One Progeny Beeches Marigold & Beeches Thrift C.H. Carter David Barker Award (Successful promotion of Polled Genetics) D & L Sapsed Large Herds 1st C.H. Carter 2nd D & L Sapsed 3rd A Hurn & Partners Medium Herds 1st B.S. Shrive 2nd J & C Peters 3rd M & L Rix Small Herd 1st R. Grenham 2nd C.Horrell Ltd 3rd A & A Jukes Merion Jones Award - Best Young Stock B.S. Shrive
The future of our breed is with our Young Handlers and in this respect it is important to recognise the contribution made by Judy and Bridget Borlase, and in particular Lorraine Blomfield. The proof of these efforts are in the results that have been achieved this year. At the Royal, Luke Blomfield was Overall Junior Champion – our congratulations go out to him. Also to Emma Blomfield and Luke who achieved second in the pairs competition. It is also excellent news that Luke Blomfield, Emma Blomfield and Emma Ogden will be representing the Society and our Group at Agribition in Canada later this year. We know that it will be an unforgettable experience for them and shall look forward to hearing about it on their return.
At our autumn meeting and dinner held at the Farmers Club, it was unanimously agreed that John Bance be appointed our Group President for his service to the group and the Breed. Further it was unanimously agreed that Mel Brewer our Past President be appointed an Honorary life member in recognition of the contribution that Mel and his wife Diane have made to the Group over the many years.
At the same meeting, it was agreed that the Group would have its own website. Work was well advanced on the project and it was expected that the site would be up and running for 2008.
On a more sombre note of late we have sadly lost two of our members – Sarah Hurley from Kent and John Brown from Suffolk. Both were stalwarts of the breed for many years and our sympathies go out to both families.
Lastly turning to the seemingly endless catalogue of problems facing the livestock industry, I would like to empathise with Sylvia and Derek Wakefield who found themselves at the epicentre of the Pirbright Foot and Mouth outbreak and to Alan Bishop who was close by – it must have been a very difficult time for them. Thankfully the Pirbright outbreak is subsiding but now we are in to Bluetongue!
As I write this report the majority of our members find themselves in the Protection Area and the remainder are in the Surveillance Area. What this means for 2008 nobody can be sure at this stage. My intention as Chairman is that whatever transpires I shall use my best endeavours to ensure that our Club continues to flourish through this period of uncertainty.