Ponies (UK) financial director and company secretary Alan Ablitt has resigned from his posts with the society.

In a shock announcement at the recent annual general meeting, Mr Ablitt cited “other commitments” and a desire to see a younger person take over the office he has held for the past 10 years.

He said: “My involvement in Ponies (UK) has given me enormous pleasure and I am very satisfied that the association is in its present position.

“Hopefully, my successor will be a younger person, as, in my opinion, the young are the future of the association and should bring new ideas and enthusiasm to it.”

With his wife, Ann, Mr Ablitt owns the renowned Colne pony stud and the couple is involved in charity work in Kenya.

During his term of office, Mr Ablitt helped the association’s financial status grow from just “a few hundred pounds” to its present level, owning the freehold of the offices at Chesham House and again producing a healthy balance sheet, despite steeply-rising costs.

But Ponies (UK) chairman Davina Whiteman stressed that, although the society’s turnover was now around £900,000, profit margins had been severely reduced and an alternative venue for the Summer Championships is now an urgent consideration.

“The East of England Showground has become a very, very expensive site, and the minute any product becomes too expensive, the customers begin to leave.”

Plans to introduce training initiatives in schools and colleges to groom future officials and event organisers on a professional basis were also discussed.

Mrs Whiteman said: “We have to come to terms with the fact that demands on our time are becoming greater and we can no longer expect to rely solely on people giving up their holidays or free time on a regular basis in order to help. I consider this the most substantial hurdle for us to overcome.”

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