Above: Lauren Wight (centre), winner of the best junior Scots prize, with Donald Skinner-Reid (left) and judge Ian Wright (right) at the NGFCC 2017 show. Photo: Norman Wallace
How to move the fancy forward? Share our ideas for a start, suggests NORMAN WALLACE
MANY comments have been made with regards to the need for change within the fancy. Change is vital for progress and the position of the fancy as a recreational activity in a much-changing world. The fabric of the fancy is fixed, in as much as the clubs have a basic structure with regards to shows and events; but it is how we arrange the structure that will enable change to occur.
To implement change when, in most cases, we have limited resources of people and finance is difficult, but change can be made, even if it is only small in comparison. E-Technology has had the greatest impact on life and, where we can, we should endeavour to embrace E-Tech. This is not easy for some clubs as it needs to be managed, and here we may lack the knowledge to adopt such systems and embody change. Getting younger people involved and others with IT skills into the hobby is also difficult; and in this regard I have no answer.
But where change for the better can be made, every effort should be made to do so. We have to think about the future for clubs in areas where many have ceased to exist and where there is a lack of members. I do feel that CBS multi-variety shows are where the future lies, and that the days of specialist one-variety shows are on the wane. Clubs such as the International Gloster Breeders’ Association defy the trend, but it is apparent that opening up shows provides for a better atmosphere when a wide variety of birds are on display.
In this respect both the Carlisle-based Northern Gloster Fancy Canary Club (NGFCC) and the Bedlington-based North of England Gloster Club (N of EGC) have, in different ways, implemented change that has seen vibrancy return to both shows.
The NGFCC has engaged with the Scots Fancy Specialist Club (SFSC) and the Scottish & Northern Counties Zebra Finch Society to provide an excellent three-variety show. This show is now seeing a resurgence in the Scots fancy canary, while still keeping strong Gloster and zebra sections. The N of EGC has engaged with the Old Variety Canary Association and the SFSC to provide a window of opportunity for those breeds that, hitherto, did not have much of a representation in Northumberland/Durham. This has now expanded with the addition of Lizard and any other variety (AOV) canary classes.
As the Gloster numbers have decreased we have had the benefit of additional birds and fanciers, which has given new impetus to these events.
Further changes within the N of EGC has seen the Gloster classification numbering changing to provide a straightforward system where the novice classes are also numbered 1 to 25, but with the letter N as an identifier (i.e. 2N. 14N etc.). This has simplified identification of novice classes.
In 2018 we also decided to remove seed as the Gloster show-cage floor covering and instead provide absorbent sheets. This has been a great success, with judges and exhibitors alike positive about the change, while the lack of spilled/wasted seed on the hall floor ensured a safer and cleaner environment.
The need to cut back on unnecessary administration and streamline how clubs and shows are run is paramount if clubs are to survive. I have always been of the opinion that prize money does not attract exhibitors or increase entries. It is the kudos of doing well against strong competition and the atmosphere of a friendly, well-run event that attracts. Too many clubs put the emphasis on prize money as an attraction, when all that is required is offering a warm welcome and providing basic hospitality.
Subscriptions to clubs are too low to even begin to change how they operate, and exhibit entry fees are of no consequence as, in most cases, it is handed back as prize money. We should look at lowering or even removing exhibit entry fees and door-entry charges, which only compound the cost to most exhibitors. This can be self-financed by removing excessive prize money and placing the onus on giving back to the many and not to the few. A welcoming cup of tea or sandwich for exhibitors is not beyond the means of all clubs.
It is looking at your own club and seeing where change can be made that will bring benefits to all. Shows are to be enjoyed by all and are not for the benefit of just a few. These are small changes, but they will provide a better atmosphere in the show hall for everybody.
NGFCC: Dave Hobart. Tel: 01900 601 729
N of EGC: Norman Wallace. Tel: 0191 440 1284
SFCSC: Ken Laurie. Tel: 01555 664 813
S & NCZFS: Phil Anthony. Tel: 0191 416 5585
OVCA: Kevin McCallum. Tel: 01670 355 848
IGBA: Ian Allison. Tel: 01772 860 940
Norman Wallace is the chairman of the North of England Gloster Club.
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