The Northern Basenji Society (NBS) is the youngest of three breed clubs representing the interests of Basenjis in the UK. The other clubs are the Basenji Club Of Great Britain (BCOGB) and the Basenji Owners and Breeders Association (BOBA).
Without the foresight of the current President of the NBS Mrs. C.M. Graham and Mr. S. Jones the NBS may never have existed as it was firstly their idea that we should have a Northern Breed Club.
In June 1965 at the Todmorden show Mr. Jones, who at that time was comparatively new to exhibiting, enquired of Mrs Graham if there was a Basenji club that he could join. She told him of the existing two clubs but that they were based in the South and from a geographical standpoint were unable to completely cater for Northern exhibitor’s needs. By the end of that afternoon these two had decided to try and form a Northern based Club and a few weeks later they and Miss M. Herring, who had joined them in the venture, met to organise support and finance for such a club. The seed for a Northern Club had now been firmly planted by these three who without even realising it had in effect become the steering group who were to establish and progress the formation of the NBS.
On December 14th 1966 an Open meeting took place at Huddersfield where from the huge attendance it was obvious the idea of such a club had the widespread support of Breed enthusiasts.
On 23rd April 1967 an inaugural meeting took place at the Royal Oak Hotel at Linthwaite, a venue that was to become the headquarters of the NBS for the next 10 years. By now the steering group had expanded to 30 enthusiasts who in addition to the original three were Mr. & Mrs. H. Bamber, Mr. & Mrs. N. Banks, Mr. P. Barton, Mr. F. Binns, Mr. M. Bottomley, Miss E. Cameron, Mr. & Mrs. Coombes, Miss E. & Mr. J. Dobson, Mr. & Mrs. Foot, Miss K. Hall, Mr. & Mrs. M. Hunter, Mrs. B. Jones, Mr. G. Kennedy, Mr. & Mrs. T. Swain, Mr. & Mrs. R Teasdale, Mr. T. Tiffany, Mr. K. Town, Mrs. C. Townsend and Mr. R. Thackrah. At the inaugural meeting the constitution was drafted and it was agreed the club should be called the Northern Basenji Society. It’s objects would be to encourage and watch the breeds interests, to organise and support Basenji classes at shows held under KC Rules and Regulations and encourage new members. The growing popularity of the Breed meant that such a club would not only represent these objectives, which are in the interests of all UK exhibitors, but being northern based would also provide more ready access to new shows for exhibitors residing in the north of Britain. Mrs. Banks generously donated £50 (a huge sum back then) to enable the Society to start off on a secure financial footing.
Having completed the requirements of a properly constituted society the NBS were accepted as such and registered with the Kennel Club on 1st November 1967.
The first Annual General Meeting of the NBS was held on 25th February 1968 and a Committee of 13 members was elected. These were Chairman – Mr. Kennedy, Secretary – Mr. Jones, Treasurer – Mrs. Cowley, PRO’s - Miss Herring and Mrs. Graham, General Committee – Mr. Binns, Mrs. Jones, Mr. Bamber, Mrs. D. Bamber, Mrs. Townsend, Mr. C. Cowley, Mrs J.Voke and Miss Hall.
It was also agreed at this maiden AGM that Mr. L. H. (Harry) Glover should become the first President and that the Society should produce a news - sheet (forerunner of The Northern Newsletter) and that Mr. Cowley would be Editor. It is also of interest that a judge’s list of 24 people “suitable to judge Basenjis” was agreed and that Junior Members (under 16) be encouraged to join at yearly fee of 2/6d (12½ p).
Over the next 4 years the NBS held a number of successful Limited and Open Shows and supported Basenji Classes at a number of General Open Shows. The membership was growing annually and the Society was on a sound footing.
Having thus successfully proved the establishment of a Society, the Kennel Club first allocated Challenge Certificates to the NBS in 1972. With the limited numbers of CC’s for Basenjis at that time these were granted on a shared basis with BOBA so effectively the NBS only had CC’s on offer every 2 years.
The first Championship Show in 1972 was judged by Veronica Tudor-Williams and an NBS co-founding member, Stan Jones, took the Bitch CC and Best in Show with his Ch. Princess of Talsus.
In 1975 the Kennel Club granted CC’s to all the clubs and from 1976 to 1996 the NBS held Championship shows annually.
Early in 1973 Les Siddall, was first co-opted on to the committee and was ratified as a full member at the AGM in March 1974. He took over as Cup Secretary and later in the 70’s also took on the role of Treasurer from Harry Bamber. Les held both positions for a number of years until he resigned in the late 80’s.
One of the most successful periods for the NBS in those earlier years was in the 70’s and 80’s when Jack Malcolm was Chair and Alec Watson Secretary. The committee was numerically large (20) but had a cross section of all ages and worked well together to produce a sustained period of growth and stability. The committee also had a President in Commander Pat Stringer who was able to devote more time and input into the Society than his two predecessors, Harry Glover and Bobby James, had been able to do.
All breed clubs at sometime in their history will have problems to face, whether it’s losing committee members, making losses on shows, or the fact that the KC reduce the CC allocation and decide to remove a set of CC’s from a club show. In the 1990’s the NBS suffered all these including the death of the then very hands on President Mary Herring and a number of committee resignations. There is little doubt that not having CC’s played a big part in creating further difficulties for NBS when once again in 1996 the Kennel Club removed CC’s from the club. In 1998 NBS was in dire trouble and were probably only saved from disbanding when a Quorum took control of the society following a successful vote of no confidence that saw the removal from office of all the officers and committee (President excepted) at the March 1998 AGM.
The next two Club shows organised by this temporary Quorum were a resounding success, a measure of which can be taken from the fact that the summer 1998 show (without CC’s) drew 97 dogs making an entry of 129 for Ann Arch to judge and cleared a profit of over £500.
Following the successful summer show the Quorum organised a ballot for a new committee and officers and these were duly installed.
The office of Patron was also reinstated and Jayne Wilson-Stringer was unanimously voted into this post.
In 2000 the KC restored CC’s; Danny Cullen took over as Chair and Malc Gibson as Treasurer. Les Siddall was invited back to take over as Secretary. In 2001 following the death of President Stan Jones Mrs. C. Graham was unanimously elected to this office, Malcolm Gibson then took over as Chair and Les Harris took over as Treasurer, the Vice Chairman was Ron Drummond and the Cup Secretary and Newsletter Editor was Mrs. A. Gray. In 2003 following the death of Mrs. A. Gray the position of Cup Secretary was taken over by Ms. M. Mills and the office of Newsletter Editor was taken on by Mrs. I. Horner and later the role was passed on to Secretary Les Siddall.
In line with the policy of the NBS to give members value for money, in 2004 the NBS opted to withdraw from the Breed Council. The cost of being a member together with the expense of travelling and attending meetings was such that the committee felt the costs outweighed the gains. The NBS felt that they could still support the Breed Council on matters of health, breed rescue, and other major breed decisions, as and when necessary, without need of membership. In any case only a minority of breeds actually do have breed councils and most with many more clubs than the Basenji breed. Following a detailed paper, giving the full case for withdrawal or for remaining in the Breed Council and sent to all NBS members, a proposal to withdraw was put to the membership at the AGM in 2004 and agreed.
It is not a widely known fact that in the first place the idea of a Breed Council originated from the NBS when in July 1968 it was proposed by Mr F. Binns and seconded by Mr. H. Bamber that three delegates be appointed to meet the Basenji Club of Great Britain with a view to forming a Breed Council. The three NBS delegates chosen were Mrs. Graham, Miss Herring and Mr. Binns. The meeting took place and thus the BC came into existence and appointed as its’ first Secretary NBS co-founder Mary Herring.
Over the decade between 2000 to 2010 the NBS achieved the best period of financial stability in its history and is now on a financially sound footing. It could not have achieved this without the hard work of the secretary during that period, Les Siddall, the expertise of the treasurer, Les Harris, and its numerically small, skilled and co-operative committee. The NBS operate a policy of returning the generosity of its members by way of the cheapest membership fees and entry costs for shows of any of the clubs. Each year members get a newsletter, sometimes two, although in 2013 due to unforeseen circumstances, including a massive work schedule, the Editor was unable to produce a newsletter at all. In addition and something that was unique to the NBS, every member used to get a pocket diary but unfortunately in 2013 the club can no longer get these produced. At the shows exhibitors do get numerous free gifts and occasionally some other gift during the year. In 2006 for example every member got a pocket digital personal organiser.
The NBS is a forward thinking, innovative, progressive and outgoing society who in 2007 celebrated their 40th anniversary when members received many specials and those at the celebratory championship show enjoyed eating a huge birthday cake together with glasses of champagne with each attendee receiving a free commemorative pen.
At the 2009 AGM Les Siddall announced that he would be retiring from the position of Secretary in 2010 having completed 10 years in office.
Due to lack of support the NBS did not hold any Open Shows in 2010 but instead held a successful and well attended Rules and Regulation seminar. But following requests from the members the two open shows were reinstated in 2011.
At the AGM in 2011 Les Siddall, a year later than he intended, voluntarily retired as Secretary and as a Committee Member. However he has been made a life member, Vice President, remains as the Press Spokesman & Web Master. He also continues to act as Health Co-ordinator for the Club. Irene Horner took over as Secretary.
At the AGM in 2013 long serving Chairman Malcolm Gibson announced he would be retiring at the following years AGM. Malcolm held a number of offices with the Society including Treasurer, Show Manager and Health and Safety Officer and was a hard working hands on committee member as well as Chairman. He duly retired at the AGM in 2014 as both Chairman and Committee member. He has been made a life member and Vice President and will continue to support the club on an ad hoc basis.
Having a President who was a founder member and a small but hard working committee has seen the NBS become one of the most respected and successful Basenji breed clubs.