South Western Great Dane Club
League Finals, Dinner Dance and Open Show –
Saturday & Sunday 9th & 10th November

The staging of this year’s SWGDC's Top Twelve League Finals followed the same format as in 2001, the Club's 25th. Anniversary year. It incorporated the long established event of judging the Premier and SuperLeague Finals with a Dinner Dance on the Saturday evening followed on this occasion by the club’s Annual Open Show on the Sunday.

Participation in the League Finals is always by invitation and is based upon points earned at shows over the preceding twelve months. The invitations are extended to the top twelve dogs and twelve bitches from the two leagues, each of which has differing criteria. Over the previous 21 years the cream of the breed have graced this event and this year was no exception. The high standard of the exhibits coupled with the glittering array of Silverware and Specials that are always on offer from this club has made this event equally compelling for both exhibitors and spectators.

Brean Leisure Park, the venue for the event, was also the same as used last year. It is in essence a self contained holiday camp, however the management set very high standards for both the accommodation and catering and was much appreciated by all in attendance both this year and last.

The evening commenced with complimentary drinks for competitors and guests. To set the right atmosphere the Committee were all dressed in formal evening wear and many of the large gathering had followed suit.

At about 6pm the business of the evening got under way with the traditional parade of the Veterans and the Colour League winners. Sheila Nicholson delivered a slick commentary on the individuals and they were followed firstly by the SuperLeague Qualifiers and lastly by the Premier League contestants.

Following the Parade the judges were introduced and judging commenced.

This year's judges were Mrs Meg Purnell–Carpenter doing dogs. Meg started in dogs as a teenager with German Shepherds and following great success with that breed, more than twenty years ago she imported and started breeding Akitas. She has bred Champions in eight Countries and has also written two books on the breed. Also at her Overhill kennels she has the French Beauceron. Meg is only the second person to be invited to judge the Leagues a second time, having judged bitches in 1992. Prior to the event the Committee took the decision to mark last year’s 25th. Anniversary with a one off invitation to two previous judges and she was in fact invited to judge last year along with John Steel. John is the only other person to be so honoured. She was very obviously disappointed at having to withdraw and it was decided to invite her this year.

The bitches were judged by the equally well known Isobell Dyke. Isobell started with Afghans Hounds in 1968 and amongst her successes she has made up many Champions in that breed. As well as Afghan, she has also handled whippets and Shiba Inu, all of which she is approved to award CC’s to. In addition this year she has been approved to award CC’s in Dachshunds for the first time. In Ireland she is approved to award Green Stars to numerous breeds and has judged in many different countries around the world. She is of course the Secretary of SWKA and has been a KC Member since 1987.

The Referee was Judith Gregory of the Tonkory Border Collies. Judith has owned the breed for 40 years and has awarded CCs to them since 1990. She bred the Top B. Collie of 2000 and is currently the Top Breeder. She has owned three Champions, one of which was BOB at Crufts 2002. She has also judged in Denmark, Belgium and Holland

As can be seen from the profiles above, this year's judges were of the same high calibre as those chosen over the preceding 21 years in adherence to the decision made many years ago to appoint only judges that have no direct link with the breed to officiate at this event.
The Committee has stuck to that principle throughout, as they feel that it is the level of impartiality that these people bring to the event, that has ensured its continuing success over the years. It is also interesting to note that they have continually managed to select the top winners.

It was a delight to watch two very competent judges go about their business. Having made their decisions they completed each League by presenting the individual winners with their trophies

The results of the Leagues are detailed below but to confirm the previous comment about outsiders picking winners. The overall winner of the Premier League Hallam’s Ch. Dainwood Fantastic Light at Fassano who recently gained her title, was in fact the highest placed D or B in that League table at the end of the qualifying period and the dog placed second on the night in Premier League dog judging, was the highest point scoring male in that league table. Also the overall winner of the SuperLeague, Townend’s Ch. Danepoint Dreamseller of Eastlight was the highest point scoring Champion in the SuperLeague table.

Gifts

Once the serious part of the evening was over it was time for the fun to start, but not before the judges and Referee were presented with commemorative gifts by the SWGDC Chair, Gwynneth Keehner.

The event was once again very well supported by the breed, so after a short break for some to change or see to dogs the festivities could start. Brean Leisure Park is well known for its fine food and the three-course meal that included a lavish carvery was of the finest standard. During coffee the draw was made for the winner of the number of the "lucky League Finals Programme". This year’s prize was a large Dane’s head model. Shortly after that with Sheila again doing the introductions, we had the presentations of the silverware by Sally Lewis to the winners of the Annual Trophies. The presentations were completed in good time and after an enthusiastically supported wine raffle the music began.

The in house DJ who was such a hit with last year’s revellers was once again in fine form and managed to set the right tone from the start. As last year, the dance floor was packed from the first record to the last. Many of those who created such a lasting impression on the dance floor last year were once again very much to the fore and the evidence can be viewed on the club’s web site www.southwesterngdc.supanet.com.

For most the last dance came far too soon and brought to an end another fabulous night. It is fair to say that a number of the participants carried on partying until the early hours. Some obviously later than others, as there were a number of faces missing at the Open Show the following day!

All the results and reports for the Open Show are contained elsewhere within this feature, therefore I will comment only on the events that surrounded the day.

Despite the absentees the judges had plenty to go over. Judging started at 10.30 with bitches and Marie Day, who needs no introduction, was soon into her stride. The dog judge was Paul Lawless (Revloch) from Ireland, who had flown in from Dublin that morning. Whilst he is best known for his involvement with Belgian Shepherds he has had lots of experience judging our breed and awards Green Stars to them in Ireland. He started at 11am and was soon putting his knowledge to good use. Both judged with only a very short break and finished in good time and both came up with Champions for their individual Best of Sex and were unanimous in the choice of the bitch for BOB. Unfortunately they could not agree on the Reserve Best in Show and it was left to the Referee David Lockett, who gave the nod to the dog. The convivial atmosphere of the previous evening lingered throughout the day with an excellent raffle being very well supported. Dane Rescue had a stand at the show that was manned by Geoff Haines who I was informed, has recently got married. Our congratulations go to him and wife Joy.

And so the event drew to a close without any major problems and ended with the same good humour and bonhomie that it had started with the previous evening.

As it was last year, our major worry about the venue was that someone might not take the appropriate care of the accommodation that might lead to the possible loss of the venue for any future project. I'm delighted to say that on that count everyone was on their best behaviour.

UNFORTUNATELY, UNLIKE LAST YEAR, THERE WAS A LARGE AMOUNT OF DOG FECES LEFT UNREMOVED FROM AROUND THE ACCOMMODATION. THAT IS TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE ANYWHERE, BUT PARTICULLY AT THIS VENUE AND IS IN DIRECT CONTRAVENTION OF KENNEL CLUB RULES. It was fortunate that the show finished in daylight that enabled us to go round and clear up the mess left behind by the mindless minority.

To the majority of those who stayed over, the Committee says a great THANK YOU for your efforts in difficult conditions. To the guilty ones I would like to ask WHY DO YOU DO IT?
A last thank you from the Committee, to all whom supported us here and in the past. I hope to see you all next year. I close with a special mention for Susan Cottrell. She has collected the points and collated the Leagues for as long as I can remember, and then some. Susan has decided to relinquish this very demanding role and henceforth it will be in the hands of Sally Lewis (Future participants please note).

To Susan, the Committee sends a very large and extra special "THANK YOU"

Tony Rewston
Hon. Secretary SWGDC



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