An independent UK organisation to represent the interests of grooms will be launched next year.
The British Grooms’ Association (BGA) is the brainchild of Lucy Katan, grooms’ representative for the British Equestrian Federation (BEF). She was awarded a £5,000 grant from charity UnLtd last week and hopes to launch the BGA by March.
Miss Katan said the BGA was “much needed”, with the complete lack of professional representation within the industry a chief concern of many grooms.
She added: “For years grooms have moaned, but now they will have a voice.”
Grooms contacted by H&H were in the main enthusiastic about the BGA.
Show jumper Tim Stockdale’s head groom Ronnie Dawes said: “I’ll definitely join. This is a good way to get things done.”
Point-to-point groom Annette Norman added: “It’s a good idea for youngsters to have a voice to advise them — things like insurance never cross their minds.”
Miss Katan said the success of the BGA depends upon getting people to join. A grooms’ association set up in the 1970s later merged with the Transport and General Workers Union, before becoming defunct.
Yearly membership of the BGA will cost about £20. Legal support, via a freephone hotline, will be one of the main benefits of membership. Miss Katan is also hoping to provide a discount card for equestrian retailers, a quarterly magazine, skills workshops and preferential rates on personal accident insurance.
The association will also run the new skills “passport” for grooms, a document designed to help career progression.
In planning the BGA, Miss Katan liaised with the Stable Lads’ Association. Horseracing is the only area of the equine industry in which grooms have direct representation with employers, via the National Trainers’ Federation.
Miss Katan said a good relationship with employers was essential to the BGA.
“The association’s ultimate aim is to make better grooms and that’s going to benefit the industry as a whole,” she said. “Employers will be closely involved with the BGA so shouldn’t see it as a threat.”
The BGA will, initially, be run on a voluntary basis. There will also be a voluntary board of directors and Miss Katan is looking for people with “expertise and passion”.