October and November are when the Northern, Southern and Midland Hamster Clubs hold their Annual General Meetings (AGMs). Attending the meeting (which is held at a show) is a good way of finding out more about the running of your club, and you won’t get volunteered for anything if you really don’t want to be! That said, stepping up to be part of your club’s officials or committee definitely gives you a greater interest and investment in the Hamster Fancy and your club.
The AGM shows are funny things if you’re attending just to look around a show. Please feel welcome to pop in and have a look. Please ask questions of the pen stewards, people at the sales table or show secretary (you will need to approach them rather than expect someone to approach you, but this is true of most shows. People looking are allowed to look in peace without being offered a ‘hard sell’). Please don’t feel left out or offended that there’s a meeting happening; holding it at a show means the club avoids the expense of an additional venue hire and travel costs, and allows greater participation of its members.
I thought I’d complete my hamster who’s who with a look at the club roles which I’ve listed below in alphabetical order. Often roles are referred to, but I know it took me a while to work out what all the different people did (especially the mysterious ‘delegates’!) No roles in the club are paid, and people do them around their other responsibilities in life, such as work, family and caring for their own hamsters.
[The first part of the who’s who can be found here]
Not all clubs have the same roles, so this post is a general overview. Some roles grant the holder voting rights on club matters that go to committee discussion, and others don’t. For full information, please refer to the National Hamster Council handbook and your own club’s constitution. If you’re still not sure, but are interested in perhaps putting yourself forward for that role in future then ask the person who holds the role or your club secretary!
This is the main link that people have with their club. The secretary takes membership applications, keeps details of members, reminds members of when to renew, receives the journals for all members from the NHC editor, posts out the journals to members, sends out schedules, directs people to their local breeders, and generally answers queries that are directed to them. It’s a big job and I’ve probably missed some of what they do from the list! A massive amount of thanks has to go to the club secretaries who work so hard behind the scenes.
Each club has committee members. This is a good starting point for getting involved in your club. It involves replying to emails on club business, and ideally attending the AGM each year. Most of the committee business is conducted via email. There may also be spaces for junior committee members who contribute on matters relating to junior members. There is usually a minimum age for being on the junior committee which is stated in the club’s constitution, for example the Southern Hamster Club’s junior committee members must be aged 12-16.
Some clubs have a fundraiser who organises the raffles and tombolas at shows. This involves seeking donations, preparing items into each show’s tombola, and either running or delegating the running of the tombola on the day. Like with the person running a kitchen at a show, it doesn’t seem particularly linked to hamsters but the money raised from the raffles and tombolas helps offset the cost of hall hire. Helping the fundraiser by staffing the tombola table at a show is a good way of getting to know people, especially for someone who would find it uncomfortable to sit/stand all day stewarding.
Ah, the mysterious ‘delegates’; I sat through my first AGM not really sure what this role was but not wanting to ask – silly me! In the UK, the governing body of the Hamster Fancy is the National Hamster Council (NHC) which currently has three affiliated clubs: Northern, Southern and Midland Hamster Clubs. You can be a member of a club, but the NHC doesn’t have its own members. Volunteers for the roles within the NHC are sought from members of the clubs, but when someone who holds an NHC role (e.g. National Chairperson, National Secretary) attends the NHC AGM they represent the interests of the NHC and not their individual club. It is the role of the delegates to represent the interests of their club. Each club has three delegates which they send to the NHC AGM and who comment on National correspondence between meetings. They are also the people that club members can contact to raise matters at a National level.
The president is a figurehead. They can be a club member, someone who has made a particular contribution to the club, or someone of standing in the region. For example, the Northern Hamster Club’s president is Dickie Bird who is famous for his contribution to cricket and linked to the region. Often the president offers a welcome to the AGM and chairs the meeting. They work through the agenda, clarify wording of proposals and call for votes.
Public Relations Officer
The PRO advertises the club and shows, both through sending out posters and speaking to local media. Online advertising may be delegated to the webmaster or done jointly with the webmaster.
The sales manager is often, but not always, the person behind the sales table. Exhibitors contact them before a show to book in hamsters for sale. They check all the hamsters in at the start of a show so they know exactly what is on the sales table (try not to disturb them or the sales hamsters while they’re counting and checking as it gets really confusing!) They keep a list of animals for sale at a show, which have sold and which haven’t. They speak to people interested in buying hamsters at a show and make sure they are informed about hamster care.
The show manager is responsible for organising all the club’s shows. This involves arranging the dates, making sure no dates clash with other club shows or events, booking halls, liaising with the treasurer to pay for the hall hire, organising staffing of the show (judges, stewards, show secretary, kitchen), writing and distributing the show schedule, giving the show paperwork and prize cards to the show secretaries, bringing equipment to the show (hire pens, disinfectant wipes for use between hamsters, dog biscuits for the show pens etc.), and co-ordinating judge training. The show manager works hard between shows to make them run as smoothly as possible. I was Southern’s show manager 4 years ago and this gave me a greater appreciation of what’s involved. Do be as quick to say thank you to your club’s show manager as folk are to point out things that didn’t go to plan!
Like with the NHC delegates, each club sends three representatives to the Standards Committee to discuss the current show standards and any new proposed standards. Representatives to the Standards Committee are most usually judges.
The treasurer looks after the club’s money and keeps the books. This involves paying the NHC for the journals, receiving money from the show secretaries after each show, paying for hall hire, and arranging audits of the books. I’ll be finding out fully what this role involves over the next 2 years as I volunteered to be the Southern’s treasurer at the recent AGM – I think I may need more fingers and toes for the adding up!
The trophy manager is in charge of the awards at shows. What that entails depends on what is awarded. Some clubs present trophies, and some rosettes. The trophy manager arranges purchase of rosettes and/or trophies within what has been agreed by the club, and arranges for the awards to arrive at each show for presentation. If trophies are used, the trophy manager also keeps a list of what has been presented when, and contacts people when their trophies are due for return, as well as keeping the trophies in good order.
The webmaster is responsible for the club’s website and other online presence, e.g. Facebook and Twitter accounts. This can include uploading show schedules each month, creating events for shows, and sourcing and uploading content to the website.
I hope this has helped give you an overview of who does what within a club. The AGM shows are a good place to find out more about your club and put faces to the roles. If you can’t attend, the minutes are circulated to club members afterwards and reading those can be a good place to dip a toe in the water. Hopefully I’ve been clear – if not please comment below or on Facebook!
Please note that the roles may be different between clubs so do refer to your own club’s constitution for specific details.