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The United Spaniel Association

The United Spaniel Association which was formed to represent the views and needs of all eight sporting spaniel breeds is proud to be holding the next European Spaniel Congress. This prestigious event takes place between 22nd and 25th April 2004 at The Abbey Hotel In Malvern.Worcs.

The history of the congress goes back to 1960 when some of the European countries started discussions on matters affecting spaniels and so formed the European spaniel council, later to be known as the European Spaniel Association. Since 1960 congress has been held approximately every three years and member countries throughout Europe have had the pleasure of hosting the event.

It was held for the first time in England in 1970 at Oxford, and again in 1983 at Malvern. 1993 saw the congress take place at Nottingham and the secretary then was Chris Bexon who is now the President of the United Spaniel Association. Chris also becomes chairman to the European Association until 2007 when Austria takes over to make arrangements for the next event taking place that year.

The Association is proud to have many prestigious names in its history and to have a well-integrated team as its present day committee. Although the club has no individual members, each member club sends 2 delegates who form the committee and a strong team of dedicated workers has evolved. The Association works closely with all its member clubs and relies on their generous support not only for this event but throughout every year.

For 2004 the congress week really starts on Saturday 17th April with the United Spaniel Association open show being held at The Sports Connexion, Ryton near Coventry. As well as the usual panel of breed judges chosen by the member clubs there are two European judges taking on various stakes and Variety classes, with Peter Beyersdorf, who is president of the German Jadgspaniel club judging Best in Show.

On Thursday 22nd there is a council meeting and a get together at The Abbey Hotel in the bar for any guests who arrive that day. Although the Association is prevented under Kennel Club rules from holding a spaniel show open to all under the FCI rules, as a part of the weekend, the events have been arranged to coincide with WELKS and particularly Friday, which is gundog day. For those visitors arriving from abroad, there is transport to take them to the show, and no doubt several will also take the opportunity to bring their dogs to a large championship show. Sheila Jakeman and her committee have kindly extended the hospitality of the show to our guests.

On Friday evening a social get together has been arranged sponsored by Our Dogs newspaper and free to everyone who wants to enjoy a pleasant evening in the company of dedicated and experienced spaniel enthusiasts. Peggy Grayson has agreed to be present for the evening and we are sure that her expertise will be much in demand. The Kennel Club is supporting the congress weekend, and will have a stand on both the Friday evening and Saturday together with some of their team of experts including Anne Greeves from the Field Trial department who will be displaying pictures from their archives. Several spaniel breed clubs will have stands displaying memorabilia, and items for sale and of course their breed experts will be on hand. This is an unrivalled opportunity to talk with our counterparts from Europe on all matters spaniel.

The official congress takes place on Saturday and is sponsored by PURINA. The programme for the day will start with an official opening followed by speakers who include Peggy Grayson on the history of sporting spaniels; There will be an illustrated talk on working with spaniels given by Kennel Club representatives and Cathryn Mellersh PhD on DNA profiling of inherited diseases. In addition to the speakers there are reports which were commissioned at the last congress on ‘Regulations for Field Trial Classes throughout Europe’ and’ Breeding Rules for Spaniels throughout Europe’. In the afternoon there will be various papers presented from member countries and we have already received several topics which will no doubt invoke lively debate. There will be opportunities for questions and the day finishes with a report from the council meeting.

A festive dinner with music for dancing from ‘ Full Circle’ is arranged for Saturday evening and a grand raffle with some extra special ‘doggy’ items is planned.

Once again the Association is grateful to its major sponsors, Our Dogs, Pro Plan, Fossedata and The Kennel Club for their support.

Gifts for the raffle would be most welcome from any organisation that would like to have their name associated with the congress.

On Sunday the 25th April it’s the turn of the working side of spaniels to be displayed. The Association is obliged to The Whitfield Estate near Malvern for permitting the use of their land for a show spaniel-working test. Again transport will be available and refreshments can be purchased. The event has sponsorship from the English Springer Spaniel Club. More details of this test are available from Shula Shipton on mishules@btinternet.com. And details of the judges will be published nearer the date.

The above information will hopefully give a taste of this exciting weekend and more details can be viewed on the websites of the European association at www.eurospaniel.com and the United Spaniel Association on www.unitedspaniel.co.uk. Both these sites will contain additional information as it is finalised or the secretary, Gina Bowers can be contacted on 01427 811405 or gina@marchlands.org.

Gina Bowers. Secretary