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South West Great Dane Club League & Open Show
8th-9th November 2003

Top three Premier League dogs on the day, were 1st Chappell and Cottam’s Selmalda Check the Meaning, 2nd Haigh’s Amarud Let There Be Love and 3rd Dashwood’s Lucerene Daddy Cool, pictured here with the judge Paddy Galvin

The 23rd year of the SWGDC Top Twelve League Finals held at Brean Leisure Park was another resounding success for the club. This was the third year at that venue, the facilities of which enable the Committee to combine this long established event with a Dinner Dance and formal presentation.

That format certainly seems to appeal to Dane folk. This year saw numbers staying over in the inexpensive but quality accommodation, rise to a new high with more than 30 staying on the Friday night, 99 on Saturday and 13 of them extended their weekend to include the Sunday night. It was a similar story at the dinner with 113 enjoying the sumptuous carvery that is the hallmark of the establishment.

Those figures are particularly gratifying for the Committee, who put an enormous amount in to making the event what it is. But what makes it extra special for we of the SWGDC is the exuberance of those attending the function. They come great distances intent on having a good time and that is what they do. This year in addition to those from England there were guests from Scotland, Wales and an intrepid band of ladies from Ireland.

Participation in the League Finals is by invitation only 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. That format guarantees that those on view are the cream of the current crop. The high standard of the exhibits coupled with the glittering array of Silverware and Specials that this club maintain, has made this event equally compelling for both exhibitors and spectators.

As has been established at Brean the evening commenced with complimentary drinks for competitors and guests and as is now the norm, the Committee was dressed in formal evening wear, as was many of the large gathering.

Despite its obvious success over the years, the Committee remain proactive in ensuring that the event retains its appeal, to that end this year saw changes to the format. A single larger ring replaced the traditional two judges and two rings with one judge for both Leagues. Because of that change the start time was brought forward and at 5pm the business of the evening got under way with the traditional parade starting with the Veterans and the Colour League winners. With Sheila Nicholson delivering a slick commentary the individuals were introduced into the ring where they each received a commemorative trophy, they were followed firstly by the SuperLeague Qualifiers and lastly by the Premier League contestants.

Following the Parade the judge was introduced and judging commenced.
This year's judge was Mr. Patrick (Paddy) Galvin of Merrybear Newfoundland fame.


He had his first Newfoundland in 1978. A year later he became a partner in the Merrybear kennel.

In 1980 the kennel imported their first Newfoundland from Denmark who produced the first ever brown bitch champion in the breed, Ch Merrybear Camiyow, she also became the first brown to win a junior warrant, and to win best of breed at Crufts. Following on from that success the kennel has since won that same award 6 times.

He started judging in 1986 and awarded his first certificates in 1992, since then he has judged in Europe 12 times and in Australia and New Zealand.

The kennel’s success has been built upon a forward-looking breeding programme. Over the years they have brought in bloodlines from all over the world, which has enabled the kennel to become the top winning Newfoundland kennel in the UK. To date they have imported 7 Newfoundlands and have 3 more currently doing pet passport so as to further the kennel’s bloodlines for the future. The kennel has bred a total of 25 UK champions and 8 overseas and also owned the breed record holder Ch Newfhouse Scandinavian Warrior for Merrybear who won 49 certificates. He was also top working 1996, runner up 1997 and in 1998 won the Pedigree Chum Champion stakes overall. They have produced both black and brown champions; the next target is to produce a white/black.

As an observer I was pleased with Mr. Galvin’s command of the situation. He remained calm throughout and went about the business of judging in a thoroughly professional manner. He finished in good time and despite not being a regular judge of the breed (A prerequisite for League Final Judges), like so many before him his selections were out of the top drawer.

Despite the festival atmosphere, as would be expected, the proper decorum was observed throughout the judging of the Leagues but once the serious part of the evening was over it was time for the fun to start though not before the judge was presented with commemorative gift by the SWGDC Chair. Gwynneth Keehner.

Immediately after the judging there was a short break for some to change clothes or see to dogs then at 8.30 the festivities could start. During coffee following an excellent three-course meal, the draw was made for the winner of the number of the "lucky League Finals Programme". This year’s prize was a superb bronze model. Shortly after that with Sheila Nicholson again doing the introductions, we had the presentations of the silverware by Gill Daly to the winners of the Annual Trophies.

There was also an additional presentation made by Raqual Twigger on behalf of the Solicitors Mills & Reeve, a new sponsor of the Leagues. She presented Crystal Champagne flutes to the Overall Winners of both the Premier League and SuperLeague. Once the presentations were completed and after the drawing of an enthusiastically supported wine raffle, the music began and it was "Party Time".

The in house DJ who has been such a hit for the last two years has moved on to pastures new but the Brean Management assured us that his replacement would be equally good and he was. As soon as the first record began the revellers filled the dance floor and it remained that way throughout the night. For many this event has become an end of season opportunity to let their hair down, so there were a lot of familiar faces out there strutting their stuff. Pleasingly there were also a lot of new ones dancing the night away as can be seen on the club’s web site which also carries other photographs as well as all of the results.

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. The format for the Open Show had also been changed along similar lines to the League Finals, with one judge and one ring.

Despite the absentees the judge Judy Thurlby (Justinian) who is now resident in the USA had plenty to go over. Judging started with the dogs at 10.00. She had only a very short break and finished in good time. The convivial atmosphere of the previous evening lingered throughout the day with an excellent raffle being very well supported. Dane Rescue also had a stand at the show and was similarly supported.

And so the event drew to a close and ended in the same good humour and bonhomie that it had started with the previous evening. In fact some enjoyed it so much they stayed another night.

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 the vast majority were on their best behaviour.

I’m also delighted to report that the majority heeded our plea following last year’s event to clean up after your dogs. THEN THERE WAS A LARGE AMOUNT OF DOG FAECES LEFT UNREMOVED FROM AROUND THE ACCOMMODATION WHICH WAS TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE
I’m pleased to say that this year there was a significant improvement. However there are still a thoughtless minority who just walk away from their responsibilities and leave it for others to clean up.


To the majority of those who stayed over, the Committee say a great THANK YOU for your efforts.

A last thank you from the Committee, to all who supported us here and in the past. I hope to see you all next year.

Tony Rewston Hon. Secretary SWGDC.