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Obituaries

Thomas Jeffrey Aston (Tasa)

IT IS with with great sadness that I have to announce the death of Tom Aston, who lost his battle against cancer on August 11th after a short illness. Tom was a courageous man who had already faced a severe heart condition 10 years ago. In those early days of heart transplants, Tommy was one of the star patients at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester.

He was born and brought up in Toxteth, Liverpool. At 16 years of age he joined the Royal Artillary as a boy soldier and soon showed his potential, being promoted through the ranks.

Tommy often told me tales of his time spent on manoeuvres in the Brecon Beacons - a very awesome place in the winter but so beautiful in the summer. He also served time in Germany.

After leaving the army, he and his wife Sue moved to Kettering, Northamptonshire. His love for Gundogs developed through a good friend who was the local gamekeeper. Between them they bred and trained working Cockers and after some years moved to Manchester and set up Bitch Boarding Kennels. This became home to the Tasa English Springers, and over 20 years the kennel has seen eight Show Champions, first Sh Ch Tasa Toymaker through to the present one, Sh Ch Tasa Baron Knight, who Tom saw take Best of Breed at WELKS this year.

His last judging appointment was at SKC, which he fulfilled with dignity. His ultimate goal was to see his daughter Charlotte and son Robert graduate to become a vet and a marine biologist - he was very proud of both of them.

To Sue, Charlotte and Robert we send of thoughts and condolences.

Len Morgan


Mrs Jean Taylor (Cleavehill)

The English Springer Spaniel Club are deeply shocked and saddened to report the sudden and unexpected death of their well respected and admired President, Jean Taylor on Monday August 23rd 2004.

It would be difficult to believe that there could be many people worldwide involved with English Springer Spaniels who would not unanimously agree that the Affix Cleavehill was instantly recognisable as being that of Jean Taylor. The two names are, and will always be, synonymous.

Tributes to Jean’s contribution to the Breed will doubtless come from every quarter and each one will have a personal story to tell about her and the influence she has had upon us all. It is a shame to think that breeders such as Jean leave us with ever increasing rapidity, but how glad and proud we should be for the legacy they leave behind.

We were fortunate enough in November 2003 to have been able to ‘twist’ Jean’s arm to appear as a featured Guest Interviewee at the Joint English Springer Spaniel Societies’ Breed Educational Day, where we were all treated to listening to Jean’s forthright, honest and open views on many topics of the Breed, and to learn something about her extra special affinity with her beloved Black and Whites. (with every one ‘Taylor made’!)

There were times when we looked on in amazement at Jean’s energy levels and her capacity to tackle everything life threw at her. Jean was of the old school where the challenge of competition and achievement, in spite of any setbacks, was what drove you forward. We do not think that ‘failure’ was ever an option for Jean. That was not to say that Jean did not have her disciplined side. Manners and respect for others was always of the utmost importance to her. We all accepted that and because of our respect for her, it did take some of us many years to pluck up the courage to call her Jean instead of Mrs. Taylor, much we expect to Jean’s amusement!

Even in adversity, Jean laughed and endeavoured to see the sunny and funny side of life. During the years Jean had to overcome her own personal family tragedies, but she never let it stop her continuing to take care of her constantly stable and loving canine companions. Jean told us recently that she had always tried to live her life by the adage "TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE"; words given to her by a fellow respected breeder and exhibitor many years before.

Whatever Jean might have been doing through the day, she always tried to make certain that she was home to feed her dogs at night. How fitting then that she should leave us doing just that.

Jean was fiercely proud of her independence but was never ungrateful for offers of assistance. It is also testament to her character and kind heartedness that friends and helpers were frequently around to lend a hand – be it with a pooper scooper, spade, saucepan, car, van, dog trolley or hammer and nails!

Jean made her presence in the world of dog showing felt in many different ways. None of us is going to forget the ‘can can’ dancing, giggling and uninhibited merriment in celebration of a success in the Show Ring. Whether she was exhibiting or judging, what was so refreshing was that Jean was always just Jean.

Jean will be missed for so many reasons. The English Springer Spaniel Club meant a great deal to her and she was immensely proud to be its President – and we were proud to have her as such. Even when appointed to this honoured position, she continued in her role as a committee member, endeavouring to attend as many meetings as time would permit. Despite the years rolling by, the kennels and dogs to take care of and personal commitments, Jean never let her family, the club, friends and fellow exhibitors down.

Today the hills at Low Cleaves will be respectfully quiet and cheerless, as they listen out for Jean and the Cleavehills to come walking by.

From All Officers, Committee and Members of the English Springer Spaniel Club, we say: "Farewell and adieu, Auntie Jean. We’ll miss you, but rest assured that the name of Cleavehill will live on.

Details of the Funeral Arrangements will be made available on the English Springer Spaniel Club website: www.englishspringer.org

Yvonne Billows


The popular great character and clever breeder Jean Taylor died suddenly late on Sunday evening 22 August. She was 78. A farmer’s daughter and wife (her late husband Bill died in 1994) Jean was a stockperson through and through.

An indomitable character, full of spirit, and renowned for her great compassion and kindness. She was generous with her knowledge and tips, and many youngsters from this country and abroad benefited from their time as apprentice in her kennel. Jean was a strong supporter of shows, always competing with good grace.

Her English Springer line was renowned for black and whites. Her foundation in 1962 was a bitch of this colour with much Bramhope breeding and a splash of American influence. She became Sh Ch Dulcie of Kennersleigh, and produced Jean’s first homebred title-holder the b/w Sh Ch Cleavehill Dandini, who was made up in 1968. Her Sh Ch Cleavehill Corn Dolly, held the joint breed CC record for black and whites. Her first liver and white Sh Ch was made up in 1972 – Sh Ch Cleavehill Brigadier, was a half brother of Dandini and Corn Dolly, by Ch Teesview Titus. In total, Jean produced 27 English Springer Champions – around two thirds were black and white, two were tri and the others liver and white.

In 1984, she introduced Welsh Springers to her kennel, bringing together a variety of lines and producing three Sh Chs to date. Her biggest winner was Sh Ch Cleavehill Brynberrys, a beautiful bitch who was Top WSS in 2000 and 2001. Berry was also successful in the big ring, winning in 2001 Group 2 at Crufts, Group 3 at Leeds and Group 2 at Richmond. The following year, she topped the lot, winning Best in Show at Darlington championship show.

Since Berry, two other Cleavehill Welsh Springer bitches have been made up – Sh Ch Cleavehill Ceri for Glenbrows for Tim and Honor Harrison and Sh Ch Cleavehill Kaluo Spice at Andrea for Suzanne Anderson, who is on the current campaign trail, with six CCs already.

Jean had always kept a large kennel of dogs, in addition to springers; her red cockers were a force to be reckoned with. Sh Ch Cleavehill Pot of Gold, co-owned with Liz Buttrick, was sire of the 1996 Crufts BIS winner Sh Ch Canigou Cambrai.

Jean first judged English Springers with CCs in 1973, Cockers in 1996 and Welsh Springers in 1998. Her latest judging appointment was as recent at National Gundog Association a couple of weeks ago when she tackled an English Springer entry of 167 (140 dogs). She was actively campaigning in both springer breeds. At East of England, she won the second CC with a Welsh Springer, and her black and white English puppy won his class at Bournemouth.

Sincere condolences are offered to her family and friends, especially her son Tim, and her long-standing friend and kennel help Margaret Holmes.

My thanks to Gareth Lawler for confirming Cleavehill statistics.

Christine McDonald