writes Margaret Dixon
In March 1955 a group of Whippet enthusiasts met to discuss the formation of a club to serve the northern exhibitors. The National Whippet Association suggested that a branch of their club be formed, but with typical northern independence it was decided to ‘go it alone’ and the Northern Counties Whippet Club was formed.
The first shows were held in 1956, and in 1957 the first NCWC Year Book was published, reporting on the activities of 1956. Production of the year book continued for about ten years, when other Clubs became involved, and this joint effort became the forerunner of the now well established Whippet Biennial.
So successful was the club that in June 1958 Championship Status was granted by the Kennel Club and so it went from strength to strength.
On Sunday 17th April 2005, to celebrate the formation of the Club, the Golden Jubilee Championship Show was held at the Kirkby Sports Centre near Liverpool. Whilst this venue has its problems, it offers a good sized hall which accommodated two large rings and still left plenty of space for stalls and displays.
The President Bob Newsham, Chairman Jean Shaw, Secretary Jenny McEvoy, Treasurer Paul Carter and all committee members had worked really hard to make the show extra special and warm welcome awaited early arrivals with a complimentary cup of tea or coffee.
Committee member Jannice Pennance – as well a running a popular plant stall on the day - had produced a first class display of memorabilia which afforded the newer exhibitors an insight into the early years of the Club, and brought back many memories for the ‘more mature’. Photographs included the late Bobby James (Samarkands), former president Mrs Mary Sheffield (Hillgarth) and the first president Mrs Dorothy Whitwell (Seagift). A very fashionable former secretary of the club was shown in the heyday of her showing career – Mrs Irene Wood – and it was lovely to see her in person on this special occasion. One line up featured Des Howarth. Although not well enough to attend this show, it was nice to see his wife Marjorie and also Hugh and Marie Cherry – all long term supports of the Club. One photograph showed a young Dennis Meakin – a former chairman president of the club, still exhibiting and to the fore in the breed today. Many others too numerous to mention, but one person who cannot be left out – Mr Fred Nicholas (Lowglen).
Through his association with Jean and Colin Shaw he is still a joint owner of successful show whippets and although not generally fit enough to attend shows, he had made a tremendous effort to be at this show. Just two days short of his 90th birthday he joined the Club Patron, Mrs Elsie Watson (Towercrest) in the cutting of the anniversary cake which was then served up with Champagne. I am sure that Elsie will not mind if I tell you that she is 92 years old. What an achievement for them both - and for the Club to still have the support of such stalwarts of the breed.
The J R Whippet Rescue stall was well supported, and the Rescue also benefited from half the proceeds of a special raffle on the day. Peggy Crosse (Jaycoats) ran her usual stall and presented Dog Coats for BIS and BPIS. Major Sponsors offering food products for class and main winners were Nestle Purina and Cobbydog to whom the Club is very grateful. Many other specials were generously given by committee and club members. Every exhibitor on the day received an embroidered, commemorative towel in Club colours and all class winners received a photograph frame and were invited to have their dog photographed by Harry Whimpany.
In spite of everything else which was going on there was still time to hold the show! Judges were Mrs Mary Anne Van Raalte (Suchini) for the dogs and Mr Jim Cowie (Benroy) for the bitches.
A full report of the results will be given elsewhere, but mention must be made of the main winners. BPIS was Mrs Lynn Yacoby-Wright’s Cobyco Can’t By Me Love. It is interesting to note that at the very first show way back in 1956, the best puppy in show was bred by a very young Miss Elizabeth Watkinson. Better known to present day exhibitors as Mrs Liz Third, at this 50th anniversary championship show, she took the Dog CC and RBIS with her home bred Bruntsfield Play Away. Another young lady exhibitor who featured in the memorabilia in a line up at a show in the early 1960’s was Mrs Claudia Ledger. She too is still showing whippets and judge Jim Cowie found his Bitch CC winner – and BIS on referee Marie Cherry’s decision – in her home bred Tradewind Touchstone. What made these top awards particularly noteworthy was the fact that Liz Third and Claudia Ledger are sisters! What a remarkable end to a very memorable show.