Noel Edmonds calls for big changes to BHS

June 23, 2006

BHS president Noel Edmonds is calling for change at the Society. He said the BHS should hold onto the best of its work but "have the courage to let go of the rest".

He said that an increase of four to five percent in membership a year was not enough because more than four million people in Britain were associated with horses and riding and the BHS membership was only just over two percent of them, with 97 percent not joining the BHS.

Noel asked: "Are we prepared to be different, to be controversial, to have enemies, to be inclusive?

"Are we doing enough for children in cities and those around the world who want to be involved with the BHS? Are we prepared to become involved in the celebrity culture?

"Why don't we address the fact that we are breeding an obese generation?

"This is a great opportunity for us. I want to propose we think long and hard about change".

British Horse Society Chairman Patrick Print spoke of the Society's "tremendous achievement".

Mr Print, a Fellow of the BHS, highlighted progress made by the BHS in a wide range of areas during 2005, at the Annual General Meeting, at Saddlers' Hall, London.

He said: "Membership of the Society increased in 2005 by some 2,400. If you compare this with the annual increases of 271 in 2001 and 336 in 2004, you will see what a tremendous achievement this was.

"More than 10,000 people took BHS exams and the Register of Instructors continued to grow, as did the number of approved riding and livery establishments."

Mr Print also mentioned the work the BHS had done with the British Equestrian Federation on the United Kingdom Coaching Certificate (UKCC), and the success of the BHS Safety Department's Road Safety CD-Rom.

He added: "The review undertaken by the MoD, with the very active co-operation of the Society, to minimise the dangers posed to horses and riders by low-flying helicopters culminated in a reduction by the RAF in the number of low-level helicopter sortees."

He mentioned BHS Welfare's Challenge Rides, which raised 37,000 in 2005, and the Access Department's programme of training events.

And Mr Print concluded with a commitment to improvement. He said: "We must do better, not because we are bad but because only a constant commitment to improving standards befits a Society with the history and position of the BHS.

"The way we relate to each other, the way we treat our examination students, the way we hold ourselves out to the wider community of equestrian organisations - all of these and many other aspects of our work need constant attention, honest self-assessment and rigorous action to improve performance if, in 25 years' time, my successor is to look back on a quarter of a century of uninterrupted excellence and high achievement by The British Horse Society."

Mr Print also paid tribute to two Trustees who retire today, Alison Fuller and Dr Harry Greenway.

The AGM was held in the City of London at Saddlers' Hall by kind permission of the Worshipful Company of Saddlers and also featured the presentation of awards for outstanding service to the Society.

The President's Award was won by former MP Dr Greenway for his 33 years of service to the BHS.

The Society's Awards of Merit were presented to Jo Batty-Smith BHSI, the BHS's first National Examinations Moderator; Carole Broad FBHS, Chairman of the Examinations Advisory Group; Linda Howson, who served as Chairman of BHS Scotland Access Committee from 1997-2006.

Awards of Merit were also presented to Billy King, Chairman of Chislehurst and District Riding Club, in Kent, for around 15 years; Carole Mewton, BHS Devon County Committee member for more than 20 years; and British Riding Clubs stalwart David Briggs who also received the British Riding Club Life Presidents' Award.

An Honorary Fellowship Certificate was awarded to Paul Fielder FBHS.