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Thursday, 30 October 2014

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HTA vice chairman is ready for challenge

PAUL Airey, the HTA’s new vice-chairman, is looking forward to helping the sport tackle the challenges which lie ahead.

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Lover of the sport: Hound Trailing Association new Vice-Chairman Paul Airey with daughter Joanne with their hounds at Helton.

A realist, after a career in banking and education, the 61-year-old is now retired but prepared to work hard to progress the traditional Cumbrian sport.

“People have already said I have time on my hands so I’ve no excuses but I am looking forward to doing my bit to try and take the sport forward.

“The problems faced by hound trailing have been well documented. We know what needs to be done and I have certain things I want to try and tackle,” he said this week.

One of the major concerns is the falling membership – and the lack of younger people coming into the sport.

“That’s a difficult one because other sports are experiencing similar problems. We have a Junior Club which has done great work over a number of years and I want to make sure that it continues, and hopefully can prosper.

“The other problem we have is in losing established venues. I think one of the difficulties here is that as we lose older people the connections with the farming community dies off with them.

“I want to establish more ties with the farming community and the NFU, making personal contacts where possible. It is vital that we don’t lose any more venues, across all the areas, and it would be good to get some new ones or old ones back,” he said.

Paul has been a member of the Carlisle and Penrith Area since 1995 and took over as chairman six years later.

In that time they have lost two established venues at Cardurnock and Rogersceugh but more recently have gained a new trail at Lazonby.

“I want to maintain the 20 trails we run each year, and hopefully build on that, especially if we can find new venues. I’ll be doing what I can to meet and chat with the farming community because it is so important to retain good contact with the people who are so important to our sport.

“I honestly believe we have a unified committee now in the Carlisle and Penrith Area with 11 of the 12 positions filled. There’s a good cross section of people involved, he says.

“I also want to see us promote the sport as much as we can. The new DVD Capetown is a terrific advert for hound trailing and we should be doing what we can to get that out and about at various events across the county,” he added.

Paul was first introduced to hound trailing by an ex girlfriend in is home town of Kendal. Very soon he was going around with the Laidler family – Barry, Pat, Roy and Tom – helping to clerk at various trails around the area.

Work in the bank interfered and he was 29 before he obtained his first hound, Meadow Moss – bred by Pat Laidler out of his good bitch Sugar Moss.

He had moved to Carlisle and wife Kate began to get involved, starting a family interest which included daughter Joanne.

“Kate isn’t so much involved with the hounds but she does great work behind the scenes – on the gate at the trails, taking entries, preparing prize money and doing a lot of unseen work which is so important.

“Joanne plays a key role, walking the hounds and is heavily involved on trail days. She has an 18-month-old daughter Lauren so hopefully that will be a third generation involved in the sport,” says Paul.

A second daughter Jennifer is a teacher in Liverpool and hasn’t really been bitten by the hound trailing bug.

Paul has never kennelled a champion, or had a serious run at a championship, but still gets as much pleasure out of the sport through winning a maiden trail or taking a non-winners.

“I just love the sport, the involvement and the crack on the trail field. Winning a little maiden trail somewhere gives us all a lift,” he says.

Mind you there have been moments for the Airey kennel. Back in 1997 Meadow Star won the puppy maiden trail at the Steel Brow international and in 2006 Meadow Izzie took the open restricted at the Centenary trails and the same season also won the open restricted on the Bitch Produce card at Helton.

Meadow Izzie, incidentally, will be giving birth to pups on February 16 sired by the Border dog Newman. The old girl is retired now but has company in the Airey kennel with Meadow Patch and Meadow Kim, who seniors of moderate ability.

But there’s always a new one to look forward to and the Airey’s have a pup for 2013 in Meadow Lola, out of Busy Night by Newman.

“She’s looking ok and shaping up well so I am hopeful of having a bit of fun with her this year,” says an optimistic Paul.

You suspect if Meadow Lola can win a puppy maiden somewhere in 2013 and Paul can welcome back a couple of farmers into the fold to provide new venues, then his first year as HTA vice-chairman will have been an encouraging one – both as owner/trainer and Association official.

One of the family ownerships which had recently joined the sport had made an impression in their first two seasons – but sadly appear to have moved on.

The puppy Problematic Spring is now owned by Steven and Lesley Miles, and has been renamed Mountain Spring. Steven and Lesley have also taken over ownership of Fallen Spring and Wistlo Spring from the Jeynes family.

In last week’s puppy registrations, Sundance was wrongly listed as out of Eden Russet - he is in fact a Dixie Moon pup.

Kennel forms, kennel insurance and subscriptions are now due, and the Secretary will be happy to receive them at Sunday’s AGM, clearly labelled and in envelopes, please. Only paid-up members are allowed to vote at the meeting.

Coniston has had no luck so far with the planned trial trails, which have all had to be cancelled. This weekend they will be held on Saturday (2.30 pm) to avoid a clash with Sunday’s annual meeting.

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