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Obituary - Mrs Ann Winter (Rosskear)

I was stunned to receive a telephone call from her younger son Alexander to tell me that his mother, Ann Winter, had died suddenly but peacefully at home. Ann had been feeling unwell, the doctor was called and merely prescribed some antibiotics. Later that day she had gone for a lie down and when Alex looked in on her a few hours later she had slipped away. That was so fitting, as when her husband Gerald died some years previously he was snoozing in front of the television at the home of Bob and Betty Flavell, and I remember Ann saying at the time that she would like to go the same way.

Ann first came into dogs with Chihuahuas but soon became attracted to Pomeranians, the breed for which her Rosskear kennel name became world famous. Her first big winner was Ch Wynwrights Midwinter Boy, bought from her good friend Betty Wainwright (as she then was) and "James" soon brought Ann to prominence. He won Reserve BIS at the very first revived Welsh Kennel Club Championship show. Although Ann was showing and breeding Poms in the halcyon days of the breed when she had to compete with such mighty kennels as Hadleigh, Cynpegs and Saymar she still managed to more than make her mark and a succession of home-bred Champions were made up, many of them figuring at group level. Of all of Ann’s Champions, my own favourite was Ch Ringlands Gaiety Girl of Rosskear, bought as a puppy from Norma Staff with whom Ann worked very closely. "Buttons" was a beautifully compact, shapely bitch who radiated quality and had one of those gorgeous Pom faces that we just don’t seem to see very often these days.

At a time when many British Pomeranian breeders were happy to sell their big winning Champions to the Japanese who were busy establishing their foundation stock, Ann kept all the dogs she felt she needed for her breeding programme.

As an exhibitor and judge Ann was a colourful personality with an outrageous fashion sense. She was sporting hot pants when many half her age would not have dared, and her judging outfits were always the talk of the show. I recall Sir Dudley Forwood being blown away by Ann’s Crufts ensemble, complete with pill box hat, veil and feather boa!

When I was starting in dogs and showing Pekingese Ann and I were regular travelling companions and a day away with her was always eventful. She could see humour in any situation and was a naturally bubbly personality who could be guaranteed to lift the spirits of all around her. I never laughed so much with anyone.

Her dogs had accounted for so many accolades including winning the very first Pedigree Champions’ Stakes Finals, and she regularly came home from a show with both CCs. However, one day she decided that it was time to quit, and so she went out at the top.

Ann was a committed dog lover and had owned a variety of different pets including Great Danes, German Shepherds and many rescued racing Greyhounds. She worked relentlessly for animal charities throughout her life and was fiercely protective of her principles. She was a generous hostess and many dog people will have vivid memories of the colourful parties that she often threw at Cwmwbwb, the home she loved so dearly.

In recent years she had taken to the role of idolising grandmother like a duck to water, and got so much joy from her young grandchildren.

I had only spoken to her days before I heard the shocking news, when she was full of planning an evening out with a group of her young friends before Christmas. Sadly it was not to be.

Ann Winter was a larger than life personality with a big heart whose presence lifted the world of dogs and made all around her feel privileged to be in her company. To her devoted sons, Patrick and Alexander, and Patrick’s family, her many friends will send their sympathy. As was her often expressed wish, there is to be no funeral. However, again in keeping with her wishes, Ann’s sons will be organising a day of celebration at their home in the coming months when hopefully friends will attend to share their memories of Ann and appreciate the garden she loved so much.

Should anyone wish to make donations in her memory, cheques can be sent to Alex Winter at Cwmwbwb, Mountain Road, Caerphilly, Mid Glamorgan CF83 1HL and any funds received will be shared between The Dog’s Trust, Donkey Sanctuary and Greyhound Rescue, three charities that were especially close to Ann’s heart.

Andrew H Brace