Brian Gurney (Danaway)
On July 2nd the world of dogs and the Irish Setter fraternity in particular, lost one of its outstanding and much loved characters when Brian Gurney finally lost his long fight with cancer. At no time during this battle, did Brian complain, but faced his condition with great bravery and dignity. That was so typical of Brian, so very unassuming and always more concerned with others than himself.
I first met Brian and wife Mary in 1973 not long after they had started showing their first Irish, Paddy. He of course went on to become part of the breed’s history when he became SH CH Wendover Colas winning the dog CC at Crufts in 1977 and the Gundog Group at Border Union in 1978 and in addition leaving his mark as a successful sire. Paddy was the first of 11 UK title holders either owned or bred by Brian and Mary and their Danaway affix became synonymous with top quality at home and abroad. The latest to be made up was Jill Holley’s young Danaway Discreet who gained this crown at Blackpool last month. I know this gave Brian a real boost in his final days.
Of course the most famous Danaway of all, was Sh. Ch. Danaway Debonair, owned by Jackie Lorrimer and the breed record holder, until surpassed by his equally illustrious son Intrepid. Brian and Mary were so proud of him and were ecstatic sitting in the big ring audience at Crufts 1993 when DD took Best in Show.
As a husband, Brian was totally devoted to Mary and in all aspects of their lives, they were a real partnership. Anyone who knew them would confirm that they really complimented each other and as hosts were fabulous and full of fun bouncing off each other all the time. In Karen, Lorrie and Paul they had a lovely family and both adored their 7 grand-children.
However, it is for his truly unique sense of humour that most will remember Brian. His wit was razor sharp and at times dry but always side splittingly funny. If there was an opportunity for a joke or a humourous dig, he wouldn’t miss it. Life in Brian’s company was never dull or boring, but always great fun. A number of years ago he lost his sight in one eye after having accidentally been hit by a pear. On his way to hospital, a paramedic asked Brian if he was allergic to anything.
"Yes" replied Brian, "Pears", That was so typical of the man, always seeing the funny side of life. His cup was always half full, never half empty.
Brian was always so positive and young at heart, sometimes larking about like an overgrown schoolboy. As more than one friend has said, Brian always left you with a smile on your face and feeling good.
He was a true gentleman and always kind. I don’t think anyone ever heard Brian say a bad word about anyone. He would poke fun, yes, but criticising others was not his style. He cared too much for that.
In life there are some very special people who stand out from the crowd and who enrich our lives. Brian Gurney falls in to this category. In future, when ever we think of Brian, I am sure we will smile and laugh - such was his effect on us all. I considered Brian a great friend and like so many felt privileged to have known him.
We are all thinking very much of Mary, Karen, Lorrie, Paul and their respective families at this time.
A celebration of his life will take place on Monday, July 11 at the church in Horspath, nr Oxford at 11.30am. No flowers please by request.
Sheila Greening with the Franshe Miniature Schnauzers died on Sunday July 4th 2005. Sheila has not enjoyed the best of health for many years, less so in more recent times and had been hospitalised; she was, nevertheless, a remarkable example of the surgeons repair and replace skills. Her death was unexpected and will be seen as a blessed release from the pain and suffering that was accepted and borne with fortitude.
Always proud of her west of Ireland roots, she also found great comfort and inner strength from her Catholic upbringing and faith. Life was never easy and despite her own failing health, Sheila nursed her husband Frank, who predeceased her, for many years.
The Franshe Miniatures never hit the high spots but gave great pleasure to Sheila over the years and she was always a good supporter of the Miniature Schnauzer Club in terms of fundraising, particularly with her stall at Club shows, and in any other way she could. Her daughter Ann will be in our thoughts at this sad time. The funeral arrangements are awaited.
Jack Whinfield (BEWHIN)
It is with great sadness that I report the death of Jack Whinfield at the age of 95 years. Jack had a long and active life with his dogs. A Cumbrian by birth, Jack’s parents settled in the village of Ashington, Northumberland in the early 1920’s. On leaving school Jack eventually got a job as a Coal Miner at Ellington Colliery. He started showing dogs as a boy, showing many of his father’s Terrier breeds; his first dog was a Westie, however he is best known for his Kerry Blue Terriers. He started breeding Kerry Blues in 1940’s. His Affix "Bewhin" was derived from his wife’s maiden name, Bell and married name, Whinfield.
After the war years he was instrumental in resurrecting Ashington, Bedlington and Morpeth Canine Societies. The dog that changed his life, however, was the Kerry Blue Terrier, "Ch Bewhin Trad Lad". This dog (Nat), winner of 10 Challenge Certificates, plus the BOB at Crufts, and the skill Jack had in presenting him also caught the eye of two very wealthy Americans, Mr. & Mrs. W R Meador who offered to purchase the dog in 1967. Jack was, at this time, reluctant to lose this dog to America, however the Americans were to return later in the year and asked Jack along with Elsie, his wife, to come to Virginia with the dog where Jack was to manage this couple’s Kerry Blue Kennel and handle and breed Kerrys for them.
This was to be an all expenses paid trip, they would have a rent free, brand new, all electric, air-conditioned Bungalow on the edge of a lake with a new Cadillac for their personal use, plus £1,650 a year and free travel anywhere in America. At the time they lived in a small gas light colliery house with no mod-cons, views of the colliery heap and a £25 a week job underground! This, therefore, was like a dream come true and really no contest. So, Jack & Elsie agreed to go taking "Ch Bewhin Trad Lad" & a Kerry bitch, Ch Shiralee Shalalie, to the USA as a foundation for the Meadors kennel and so Jack became a Professional Handler. Both these dogs within a short time were to become Am. Champions.
This situation meant that Jack’s dogs and his skill in preparing them had provided a complete change in lifestyle for the Whinfield family. At the time, their story made the headlines in the National Press. The family remained in the USA until their retirement, with Jack making up many Kerry Blue US Champions for the Meadors, ably assisted by Elsie his wife. In 1979, Mrs Meadors passed away so Jack & Elsie, both in their mid 60s, decided to retire and returned to the Ashington area to settle which they did, coming back this time on board the QEII, once again all expenses paid.
Jack, an ex coalminer from the North East, was a real gent and would help and advise anyone on preparing a dog for the show ring; he had competed against the best in the UK and USA and succeeded. He was a friend of this year’s Crufts Best in Show handler, Peter Green, and indeed helped him on many occasions whilst in the USA.
On their return they kept a couple of Kerry Blues and were to compete at local shows with great success but Jack could not be tempted to get back on to the Ch. show scene. He never had any interest in judging as he loved the excitement and challenge of competition. He spent most of his retirement in his large garden growing show leeks, dahlias & onions and winning many prizes at the local shows. In fact, he was busily planning and preparing his garden, which he did all himself, when I last visited him in May.
The last time Jack was in the dog show ring was at Bedlington Canine Society in 2000 where he was to win, rather fittingly, Best Terrier. He will be greatly missed for his friendship,advice and encouragement by the Terrier folk of the North-East.
Major D.M Thornton