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Laura Dempsey is New President for Society of Master Saddlers

Incoming President Laura Dempsey with new
Vice President Ken Lyndon-Dykes.

Laura Dempsey has been appointed as the new President of the Society of Master Saddlers. Well-known throughout the industry, after many years as a Master Saddler and Qualified Saddle Fitter, Laura is also an expert in the side-saddle world. Laura will work closely with the Chief Executive, Hazel Morley, and the Executive Committee, along with the sub-committees over the coming year and was appointed to this new position at the Society of Master Saddlers' AGM held at The Rutland Arms Hotel in Newmarket. Laura takes over from Peter Wilkes, with Ken Lyndon-Dykes moving into the Vice President's role.

Said Laura: "I'd like to thank Peter Wilkes for leading us ably as President for the last year.

"I was browsing online a couple of days ago and I came across a quote attributed to Francis of Assisi that I thought was very apt for the year ahead. He said...."Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

"Next year the Society celebrates its 50th anniversary and since its beginnings in 1966 it has seen many changes that the founders could not have envisaged.

"What began primarily as a society representing manufacturers and retailers has now grown to encompass many more facets of the trade with more emphasis on individual saddlers and crafts people, and of course, saddle-fitting.

"The Society started by doing what was necessary, which was looking after the interests of the retail trade.

"It then went on to do what was possible, which was to embrace individual saddlers as members and to look far more closely at the horse's welfare and comfort, and not just that of the rider.

"By doing this, the Society achieved what was once thought to be impossible; implementing standardised saddlery skills qualifications for all levels, as well as the first recognised qualification in saddle-fitting. With help and support from the Worshipful Company of Saddlers, these City & Guilds qualifications are accepted worldwide.

"For our Society to continue to move forward, we need to keep an open mind, not be frightened of change, whilst not changing purely for change's sake and to build upon and improve the standards which we've already set.

"We now have many more individual members, in both craft and saddle-fitting, of which I'm one, and those members' expectations of the Society have changed. They want more education, help and support from us.

"However, the Executive Committee, which is made up of people who volunteer their time and knowledge, cannot do this alone. They need the members to become involved, not just with ideas of what is wanted, but by actually helping to make these things happen.

"A society grows on the strength of its membership and it's not just what we take out, but more importantly, what we put in."