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Lt Cdr E A J Collard, RN, MH

COMMANDER COLLARD, who died at the end of May, aged 92, was the doyen of the Cocker Field Trial world. He came on the scene after the second world war, a dashing naval officer affectionately referred to by his elders as ‘The Admiral’ or ‘Pinkie’. His ‘Elan’ dogs soon became a force to be reckoned with, and have been very successful and influential ever since.

F T Ch Young Punch of Elan, born in 1947, was the first of many field trail champions and several have also won the Spaniel Championship, notably FT Ch Buoy of Elan who did it twice. The litter sisters Elan and Greta and Elan Garbo gained their titles in the last decade, the former still in the kennel today. In the early days, the dogs were handled by the great John Forbes, and although he, then Neville Grant, and then the current trainer Keith Chudley – who has had a long-term partnership with the commander – were greatly responsible for Elan successes, the dogs were sometimes handled by the Commander himself.

In 1954, he took over the running of the Field Trial section of the Cocker Spaniel Club and, living in Snetterton in Norfolk at the time, gave his ground for trials. For a few years, a Stake or Novice Dog and Novice Handler was run there to encourage the show owners, Kay Baldwin (Vailotest), Helen Leek (Bradpark) and Jo Walker (Okell) being among those who took up the challenge. Cdr Collard was a regular at the pre-show dinner when the club’s annual championship show was held at Ascot, and his dogs would be entered in the Field Trial classes.

With his position in field trials well established, he was never slow to point out to the younger generation any errors in their ways, or even in their dress, which they would take in good part, maintaining respect for his rank and always referring to him as The Commander.

He never missed Henley Regatta when he was able, and was looking forward to Royal Ascot in June. He was interested to the end, had attended last year’s Spaniel Championship and was only recently discussing young hopefuls yet to come. His dogs are still considered the best there are, especially for temperament and their willingness to please. The funeral was at Woking on 12th June.

Jennifer Lloyd Carey