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Briefing Statement from The Flatcoated Retriever Society



1.​ In November 2020 the General Committee received a letter from four members about the Working Minority Retriever Club’s (WMRC) inclusion of Flatcoats on its website.  They were concerned that if the Flatcoated Retriever was regarded as a minority breed, it could put its Open Trial status in jeopardy, and wanted the General Committee to write and request that Flatcoats be removed from their website.

2.​ The then Field Trial Secretary wrote to the Kennel Club for clarification regarding our Open Status and the use of the words ‘minor’ and ‘minority’ and according to the Kennel Club’s response, the actual position on both matters is as follows:

No Club or Society has ever had its ‘Open’ status removed and there is no process for so doing – despite the term ‘Minor Breed’ being in common use in some circles, it is a term not recognised by the Kennel Club and consequently there are no breeds, including retriever (or spaniel) breeds defined as a ‘minor breed’ by them.

3.​ In the light of this response, the General Committee decided not to write to the WMRC as it was not affiliated to the Kennel Club and the General Committee could not interfere or have any jurisdiction over a private club.

4.​ In April 2022, a member who had been asked to design wording for a Flatcoat banner to take part in an event with the WMRC, sought the approval of the wording from the new Field Trial Secretary and her Sub-Committee and this restarted the ‘minority issue’ with a great number of inflammatory and inaccurate comments on social media.

5.​ The General Committee therefore decided to set up a small working party with members from both the General Committee and the Field Trial Sub-Committeeconsisting of Graham Stanley, Jane Jones, Jan Egginton, Liz Branscombe, Andrew Durrant, Sarah Young, Lindsay Kinnaird, Gill Awty and Roz Bellamy to review and examine the problem.   It was acknowledged that the working party knew very little about this Club. It was, therefore, decided to invite the Chair of the WMRC, Judy Hempstead to an informal meeting with a few members of the working group.  The working groupprepared some questions to be put to her.

6.​ The meeting with Judy Hempstead was unproductive and no progress was made beyond establishing that the WMRC is a small, independent club with less than 100 members.  It provides training for people new to gundog work or people who have lost their confidence.  It is not affiliated to the Kennel Club.  Judy Hempstead stated the word minority meant small in number only and that it is why it is part of their title.

7.​ Following discussion by the working group, it was recommended to, and agreed by the General Committee, that a letter be sent to Judy Hempsteadcommenting positively on her training, but advising that if ever the WMRC became affiliated to the Kennel Club, it was requested that Flatcoats should be removed from their website.

8.​ The General Committee have also written to the Kennel Club to obtain their current position on ‘Open’ status and ‘minor/minority’ breeds and we await a reply.