For the second successive term a woman has been president of the Northern Ireland British Friesian Breeders’ Club. Isn’t it great to see such a lack of prejudice against women?
When I called to see this year’s president, Miss Florrie Wilson, at her Potterswall, Antrim, home, I was delighted to hear that there was a definite trend towards women breeders in the club. And the men don’t seem to show any resentment!
Miss Wilson and her brother, Sam, run their 200 acres surrounding Potterswall House and Miss Wilson takes on a great deal of the responsibility for the 100-strong Ravenhill herd.
Miss Wilson has been connected with Friesian breeding for as long as she can remember. “I left school the minute I was 14,” she said, “and had no desire to go to Methody like my brothers and sister.”
The Wilson family have always been well known Friesian breeders and it is Miss Wilson and her brother who are really carrying on the family tradition.
Miss Wilson was vice-president of the club for two years when Mrs Elsie McLean held office.
The Northern Ireland club has been going for 25 years but the parent society has been in existence for over 50 years.
Next year the club will have its 21st annual dinner. “We will have to arrange something special for this,” said Miss Wilson, “and in the summer we hope to stage a field day or exhibition of breeds. I’m not sure just what form it will take at the moment but we will certainly celebrate our twenty-first!”
The idea to have an annual dinner was started by a woman, Miss Winnie Price, when one of her Craig Bet Rosanne herd broke the world record for butter milk.
There was a celebration for that because it was the first time that an Irish breeder had achieved this honour and from then the “celebration” has been an annual one.
The Craig Bet Rosanne trophy has been won by the Wilsons three times since then – as well as lots of other cups and awards which have pride of place in the dining room of Miss Wilson’s home.
There is no shortage of women members in the parent society – the British Friesian Society – and Mrs Gerald Strutt of Essex is one of its most notable members.
I asked Miss Wilson if she had any difficulty keeping the male members ‘to order’ at committee meetings. “No, not at all,” she replied, “and I think we have one of the most loyal committees with almost one hundred per cent turn out at all our meetings.
“Northern Ireland Friesians have advanced terrifically in the last 20 years. There are 100 members in the club here and there could be far more because 600 people are members of the parent society.”