Photo: Dave Brown. Alfy Calford (right) ensured the Welsh ZFC paperwork was tip top

Last year, this year, it’s always the same: we have a great time at show after show, yet none of it would happen without the dedication of the show secretaries who are usually too busy to enjoy themselves. DAVE BROWN pays some tribute

FOR those of us who enjoy showing our birds, weekends for the past month or two may have been taken up with a routine of getting up in the dark and driving down the motorway to get our birds staged in good time prior to judging.

Most people will get the birds booked in and then grab a bacon sarnie and sit back to enjoy a bit of bird chat for a few hours. That is, of course, unless you have taken on the all-important role of show secretary. Show day, in this case, is a full-on day of administration, booking in entries, recording absences and results, working out the rosettes to be awarded and ensuring the returns are in hand to send back to the clubs the event is affiliated to. This involves a huge amount of work, so here is a public thank you to all the show secretaries who work tirelessly for the greater good. From my own show visits this year, Alfy Calford did a great job stepping into the breach for the Welsh ZFC and, over at the Kent ZFC, Janet Ralph did a superb job as always.

Keeping these committed people in their jobs is vital, as there are very few fanciers who are willing to take on the job if the situation arises. I was sad to hear of a cage bird society that, despite having a strong membership and an excellent turnout at the monthly meetings, were in a situation where an open show could not be run because a volunteer for that all-important job could not be found. That was a real tragedy and perhaps a warning to all societies to plan ahead and have someone being trained up in the wings to prevent a show’s extinction in the future. 

While being show secretary is still a job that requires a lot of organisation and planning, there’s also some good show organisation software on the market that will produce cage labels, and print results sheets and catalogues. This is well worth researching in an effort to remove some of the graft involved.

Another vital element of ensuring a show runs smoothly is making sure club funds are adequate to deal with the running costs of a successful show that can, on occasions, actually make a loss. Fundraising throughout the year is a sensible approach and a few clubs have recently tapped into social media to raise substantial sums. Here’s an example: members generously each donated a bird to the club. But, rather than these birds being sold in a traditional auction format at a show, photos of the donated birds were posted on the club’s Facebook page. The birds were up for grabs for a set period of days, with fanciers battling it out placing bids for the duration. Some great prices were made, with bids coming from both home and abroad. This was a great piece of innovation and stands the club in a very sound financial position for the future. This is also a great way of plugging the event in the run-up to show day and ensure a few guaranteed visitors through the door who will arrive to collect their birds. 

One of these forward-thinking clubs, the Ulster Zebra & Bengalese Society also ensure some of the running costs are met by securing the support of a sponsor. In return, the club provides adverts in its schedule and a company banner in the show hall. Even if your club administrators aren’t particularly computer savvy, a few good old letters sent to local or birdkeeping companies may throw up surprises in the form of prizes and financial support. 

Dave Brown currently keeps exhibition zebra finches, coloured canaries and Malaysian Serama bantams for showing.

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