Bea Blakeman has been appointed as the new President of the Society of Master Saddlers.
Well-known throughout the industry Bea has a successful career running Crewe Saddlery in Cheshire and has been part of the business since leaving school in 1989. Originally set up by her parents Audrey and Howard, Bea took over the management of the company in 2011.
An SMS Qualified Saddle Fitter for many years, although Bea’s primary role is running the business, she is still very much hands on when it comes to the saddle fitters’ role and training.
Bea 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 on Zoom due to current restrictions.
Bea takes over from Ted Boggis, with Helen Reader moving into the Vice President’s role.
Recounting his year in office Ted said:
“When I became President last September I knew that it was going to be a busy year for the Society, but I didn’t know that we were going to be hit below the belt.
“The first six months were relatively normal and your committee was involved in progressing our horse-welfare vision and strategy, our partnership with Hartpury University, the revised training pathway and other programmes.
“By February, however it was clear that things were going to change as Covid 19 loomed. None of us has been unaffected by this virus and I’m proud of all of you who’ve battled through real hardship whether you’re involved in the craft of saddlery or the art of saddle fitting, including those volunteers both on and outside of your Executive Committee who struggled to keep their own businesses afloat as well as providing timely information and support to the membership.
“Last year we published our welfare-centred Vision and we’ve been working on redefining our strategic objectives and plans. We’re continuing to develop our relationships with those major players in the industry who share our determination to neutralise the unqualified saddlery-fitting amateurs who damage the wellbeing of the horse and the reputation of our members.
“I do hope that the effects of Covid will lessen over the next few months and we’ll be able to accelerate progress on developing our collaborations and partnerships, as well as getting back to a full training programme.”
On her new appointment Bea added:
“Firstly, I want to say what a huge privilege it is to take on this role, 30 years of surviving in the Saddlery industry I hope will set me in good stead.“Secondly a thank you and well done to Ted, Hazel and all the executive team and officers for all their efforts in what has been a truly remarkable year.
“In my year as President I will endeavour to continue with the Society’s vision of Welfare and whilst stepping into Ted’s shoes is a little daunting I hope I can bring the energy and impetuous for continued change and development.
“I’m a great believer in adding value and it’s imperative that the SMS brings value to you, its membership. This year I believe we have shown just how much we do make your membership worthwhile, offering members guidance and support throughout this crisis has been at the forefront of our efforts.
“We must also focus on making the Society future proof in order to maintain and enhance our strong position, becoming a more profitable business model will be key to this progression.
“The next 12 months will be a challenging time for the society and all within the saddlery industry but I look forward to the journey ahead and want to assure you that myself and the executive team are here to add value to your membership.”
For more information on the Society of Master Saddlers visit www.mastersaddlers.co.uk