AGM 2020 – meet the candidates


Please find the candidates for the 2020 Board election listed in alphabetical order (by Surname)


Clara Boulton

Proposed by Sue Loach
Starting out with alpacas, I was quickly swept away with the endless opportunities these wonderful animals present. I went from someone with a history and love for agriculture, dedicated to parasitology research, to having my life completely change direction. From my humble beginnings wanting to buy in a few female alpacas and utilise stud services, to 4 years later. I now have my own breeding herd, a trekking and Animal Assisted Activities business, and I am in the process of developing a fibre side to the same business. Processing my own fleece at home into homemade products, from start to finish, has given me a new appreciation and love for the brilliant product we have at our fingertips. It is safe to say that there isn’t a single aspect of alpacas that doesn’t excite me.

Outside of alpacas, my roots come from agriculture, specifically cattle. However, my main career path has been in parasitology research. My original qualification was a more general degree in Zoology, focusing on parasitology and genetics. Following this I gained a Master’s in Advanced Biological Sciences (Host: Parasite Biology) from the University of Liverpool. I was fortunate enough until last year, when alpacas took over somewhat, to work with the brilliant team focusing on liver fluke research at Liverpool University. Whilst my research was largely revolving around genetic analysis and staring at code on a computer screen, most conversations within the team were based on the impact of our research itself. Fortunately for me, this meant spending a lot of time discussing the practical implications and benefits of our research within agriculture. In turn this has given me a greater understanding on animal science, despite it not being my original degree, which is something I feel could be useful to the society.

On the board, I think that I can give a number of different perspectives. From an agricultural and academic standpoint, but also as a relatively new alpaca owner who started their alpaca career in their early 20s. I want to ensure that I use part of my time on the board to promote alpaca ownership for other young adults, an opportunity which I think many are overlooking. Whilst I cannot claim to have the CV or experience of the many brilliant minds on the board already, I am a hardworking, determined, studious individual. My single focus and motivation for putting myself forward is to ensure our industry is as viable and as fruitful as possible. I hope that I can be both useful to the board itself, but that I can also really make a difference and help our society grow for not only current members, but for future members as well.


Kate Brookes 

Proposed by Sue Loach

My alpaca journey started in 1997, in Wiltshire, with two alpacas in our large back garden. The need for more land for the alpacas prompted out move to the derelict Lower Mullacott Farm, near Ilfracombe in North Devon in 2002 and our herd increased to 25, staying around that number for many years. About five years ago we decided to increase the size of our herd and now have 50 adults, focussing on breeding appaloosas, whilst continuing to improve fibre quality within the herd.

I served 30 years as a police officer, retiring in 2012 as one of the tutors at the National College of Police Leadership, training leadership skills to senior police officers across the UK and abroad. I have continued working in this area, as a freelance coach and trainer with many organisations, including Citizen’s Advice, NHS and across the civil service. On occasions I am now able to combine my love of alpacas with training, running team building and business training courses with alpacas, as well as BAS affiliated husbandry and handling courses.

I believe now is the right time to put myself forward to work at a national level with the BAS board. I am keen to support the educational aspects of the board work, particularly with a focus on health and welfare, and also want to make sure the voice of smaller herds is heard, including those that are not showing or breeding their alpacas.  I believe that it is important that the BAS remains relevant for all members – those that show, run businesses with their alpacas, make products from alpaca fibre, have them as pets in their paddock and the almost endless list of other ways that alpaca owners would describe their herd.

I am keen to use my high energy levels and commitment to the long term future of the alpaca in the UK, to help the BAS keep the national herd moving forwards in the best way possible for the alpacas themselves and sustainable alpaca businesses.


Elaine Clarke 

Proposed by Tim Hey

Professional Background

Having graduated as a Doctor of Chiropractic from the Welsh Institute of Chiropractic in 2004, I returned home to Northern Ireland and set up my two Chiropractic Clinics; a multidisciplinary practice in the town of Portadown and a distinct Chiropractic practice at our home in the Clogher Valley.

I continue to practice in both clinics today and am truly passionate about all aspects of health and wellness.



History with Alpacas

Having grown up on a farm and as the daughter of a devoted cattle farmer, I have always been surrounded by animals and have always fully immersed myself in all aspects of ‘farming life’.

On getting married in 2006, my husband Roger and I established Amberly Alpacas, at our home in the picturesque Clogher Valley. At that stage we were one of the very first breeders in Ireland and have worked hard to develop our prize winning herd of both huacaya and suri alpacas.

Members of the British Alpaca Society, the Northern Ireland Alpaca Group, the Alpaca Association of Ireland and the North west Alpaca Group, we are truly dedicated to trying to support and promote the alpaca industry as a whole.

Being one of the 9 founder herds of the Northern Ireland Alpaca Group back in 2013, I have had the privilege of holding two terms in office as group secretary. During this time, I helped organise a wide range of seminars, fibre, veterinary and other events, that not only generated revenue for the group but which also nurtured a much needed sense of collegiality and helped instil an enthusiasm for ‘all things alpaca’.

With our love for all aspects of education and learning, Roger and I have worked through various stages of BAS alpaca-related training and are proud to be members of the BAS Affiliate Training scheme. In 2019, we established the Alpaca Education Centre of Ireland from which we deliver and host a wide range of training and educational events.

Areas of Interest

On a personal level, I have always been a real ambassador for alpaca fibre and have devoted a lot of time over the years, into organising, delivering and attending events and training, all geared towards the promotion of the fleece and its uses. On a similar level, I am very interested in the variables that can have an impact and influence on the development and quality of an animal’s fibre, scientifically and otherwise. As fibre animals, I truly believe that alpaca fibre deserves a pivotal position in our industry.

In addition to fibre and with my professional background in anatomy, I have a genuine interest in all aspects of the health, wellbeing and indeed welfare of these wonderful animals as well as the diverse range of factors that can impact and both directly and indirectly affect their health.

As demonstrated by our establishing the ‘Alpaca Education Centre of Ireland’ on our farm at Amberly, I am truly passionate about education and genuinely believe that knowledge is an invaluable tool; one that can be used to help equip owners and breeders with the necessary attributes to achieve success. By this, I am not simply referring to success in the show ring, but success in terms of achieving the goals and aims that they had set out to achieve, not least of which, a happy, healthy herd. In my view, success should be a shared vision and a collective goal. Where an ethos of collegiality exists…when one person succeeds, we all succeed; a philosophy that Roger and I believe very strongly in.

I hope the aforementioned serves to give you a short insight into my background and some of my specific areas of interest. Although, if I’m to be very honest, there really isn’t anything ‘alpaca related’ that I am not interested in or frankly obsessed about!

Finally then, I would like to offer my sincere assurances, that If I were to be elected onto the board I would work with dedication, integrity and respect and do my upmost to support the diversity of the membership and contribute to a shared vision of ongoing progress and success for the BAS and UK alpaca industry as a whole.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Paul Hetherington

Proposed by Mary-Jo Smith

My introduction to alpacas began at the Cumberland Show in 2008, thinking they were quite cute my wife Barbara and I bought four as pets. By March 2009 a decision had been made to create Beck Brow Alpacas of Cumbria. The herd has grown over the years and now numbers around 160.

We have a well-established herd, commenced by sourcing animals from other UK breeders as well as  importing new genetics from Australia and New Zealand. I do now believe that the top quality alpacas in the UK are equal to these countries, and actually better in some areas.

I have experience of exporting to Northern Ireland and Europe and have advised others on the processes involved.

An area of enjoyment for me is working with other owners to help achieve their breeding goals. I am always willing to give any advice and support that I can, be that in practical terms or through the sharing of experience.

I have been actively involved in the show circuit and really enjoy exhibiting. I have also been chief steward of the Westmorland Show for the last few years and assist with the organisation of the NWAG Halter Show and Northern Fleece Show.

We are always looking at ways to continually advance the quality of our herd, and on a larger scale the improvement of the national herd, thus I am very supportive of the Board’s efforts to establish an Estimated Breeding Value program.

I think the BAS should be there for all it’s members whatever their focus. I think education and welfare are important areas especially as the number of owners increases. The regional groups can help greatly with this and have been doing a good job recently with Zoom conferences for their members.

I have an engineering background and have worked in the oil and gas, shipbuilding and medical equipment industries. I spent 10 years working all around the Middle East and travelling the world before settling down in the Eden Valley in Cumbria – a beautiful part of the world which is bypassed by most. I recently gave up my engineering job to concentrate full time on the alpacas which will allow me the time to take on the role of board member if elected.

So, I can offer over 10 years experience of managing, breeding, showing, importing and exporting alpacas.

I have a practical, fair and common sense approach to life and a professional approach to whatever job I am doing. Throughout my working life I’ve been employed in positions where working with and getting along with people were an essential part of the job.

I am willing to listen to all options and opinions and come to a balanced view on any given subject.

If you think I can offer something to the BAS board then please give me your vote in the upcoming election


Ian Mitchell

Proposed by Barbara Hetherington

I have been BAS Treasurer for three years and have enjoyed working for BAS members as part of the  BAS board.  The BAS rules require a proportion of the Board to stand down each year and it’s my turn this year.   I have chosen to seek re-election because I think my skills have benefited BAS and I think I represent a type of member, and a way of thinking, that needs a voice on the Board.

My wife Angela and I have been involved with Alpacas for six years now, we went to a County show where we saw Alpacas for the first time, so a short time later we thought we would go and buy some pet boys but we finished up buying some nice quality pregnant females and now have a herd of 50.  We love to show our alpacas and we are part of the committee that has organised the Scottish Alpaca Championships, which is now going to a two day show from next year.

Angela and I have 4 children and 13 grandchildren, and we run three very successful convenience stores in Scotland, we started in 1996 with a small store with one employee and now have over 50 employees.

I am passionate about our alpaca industry and have the belief that BAS must represent all opportunities that the alpaca offers to the varied membership. The BAS cannot be solely focused on showing and the BAS board must strive to ensure that no opportunities are missed; to both grow the industry and ensure the welfare of the alpaca is protected. I would ask that you support my ambition to serve the BAS and its members for a further term.


Judith Newman

Proposed by Patricia Northmore



I am a retired Chartered Management Accountant. My career spanned 30 years in the NHS where I held a number of Directorships in Finance, Commissioning and Information across a broad range of NHS organisations. I managed annual finances of £750m and negotiated contracts, public and private, for all hospital and community health services for the residents of Somerset. I am an experienced Board Member and appreciate healthy debate but also understand the need for corporate support for the collective decisions of the Board.

My father came from a farming family and I have held a lifelong interest in agriculture and the countryside and have spent much of my spare time over the years working on farms, rearing livestock and riding horses.

The Present

I live with my husband, Gary Steer, on a 15-acre smallholding in Somerset. We started with 3 alpacas as pets in 2009 but quickly developed an interest in breeding which has led us to where we are now. We have 40 alpacas, both male and female, of various ages and we breed stock both for sale and to develop our own herd and we also enjoy showing them. The most important thing to us is the welfare of our alpacas and their needs always come first.

Our business is founded on the principles of honesty and openness and we freely help other alpaca owners when they are in need of practical assistance or advice.

I have been the Secretary of the South West Alpaca Group (SWAG) for the past 5 years. I help to organise the SWAG Halter Show at the Somerset County Show, the North Somerset Halter Show and I organise the South West Alpaca Group Fleece Show.

What Can I offer to the Membership and its Board?

First of all, I believe in the British Alpaca Society and although not perfect it fulfils a number of important functions for its members. I firmly believe that there is huge potential within its membership to further develop the Society and I would be keen to harness that potential towards making it fit for the future. I feel strongly that the industry needs a Society that can rise to meet the challenges we face and which can carry its members with it. This is a theme that I would have in mind during all discussions at Board level in particular during the development/review of strategy and associated business planning and action plan development.

I would represent all members of the Society to the best of my ability. I believe that we must all recognise that we have a wide range of members from those who keep much loved companion/pet alpacas through to those that operate significant businesses from which they make their living. All of these are entitled to be, and must be, represented by the Board and it is possible to do this without a conflict of interest as welfare will always be at the core of our business and the two are not mutually exclusive.

I have a broad skill-set in Strategy Development, Action Planning, Negotiation and Financial Planning and Management.  All of these skills will be available to the BAS Board working on behalf of its membership.



Thomas Scott

Proposed by Gareth Sanders

By way of introduction to those members I haven’t had the privilege to meet yet, my name is Tom Scott.  My wife Wendy and I are in our 3rd year of alpaca ownership having built our farm and mixed huacaya and suri herd from scratch – hopefully you had the opportunity to read our Dark Sky Alpacas story in the 2020 Alpaca Yearbook [ page 58]

Myself and Wendy are passionate about alpacas, suri in particular, and I think we have now experienced most aspects of alpaca ownership from farm set-up including the building of barns and field shelters, fencing and bio-security, animal husbandry, mating, birthing, shearing, buying, selling, importing, offering stud services, showing (halter and fleece), regional group committee membership, and attending husbandry and fleece courses. We also had the privilege of hosting the inaugural Cornish Fleece Show at our farm this year and acting as stewards.

In volunteering for the BAS Board I would like to help the Board make our Society as inclusive as possible and focus on the things that really matter to all members. Hopefully my experience of delivering large scale, complex projects involving many different interest groups, leading a large scale customer facing business that included the management of ‘000s of staff alongside the responsibility for setting business strategy and plans, will allow me to help the Board drive our industry forward, taking all members’ opinions into account. I’m also a sitting Board Member of a large insurance company, which should allow me to bring some commercial best practice to the BAS Board [and failing that I have got 19 years’ experience from the Army if it all turns ugly!].

As a bonus I’ve also spent some time earlier this year working with the BAS Board, which allowed me to better understand some of the challenges and opportunities facing the Board [and still be willing to volunteer!].  Wendy and I provided some business consulting services to the Board [don’t worry it was free!] to help them confirm their overall strategy and capture that in a message house that was published a couple of months ago. []

In summary, through improved member consultation, open and honest communication and looking for solutions that work across the membership, I believe there is an opportunity for the Board to represent all Members interests and views, be they small or large scale owners, new or experienced owners or those with a particular interest.

I believe I have some of the skills and experience needed to help the Board in this endeavour and to make the Society as enjoyable, supportive and inclusive as possible whilst helping to push forward the public’s awareness and benefits of alpaca ownership, hence my request for your support in voting for me.

Thank you   Tom