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Joan Agate-Hilton – a tribute

With the passing of Joan, the BDC, all Dalmatians and those who had the great pleasure to have known her have, lost one of their longest serving and devoted breed experts.

Joan first fell under the spell of Dalmatians in thes 1930s when she cared for and handled several Dalmatians at the Mesro Kennels of Mrs Eggo. Since the late 1930`s she was her own entity and began her lifetime of devotion to the breed. In this lifetime she was joined some 30 – 40 years ago by Terry who dearly supported her in all her endeavors and it is most appropriate that at this sad time he should be in our thoughts.

Joan was a member of the B.D.C. for about 60 years, serving the breed and the Club in all its high offices. She was elected to the Club Committee prior to 1956 and was still most concerned with it until ill health kept her from it in recent times. She was elected to the office of Vice – Chairman in 1968 and elected Chairman in 1973 serving for 10 years.

Joan took over the Chair from Betty Clay who had held the position for the previous 22 years. Those who served on the Committee during Betty Clay’s term of office will accept that for most of that time she was a dominant figure in the breed and its affairs. This meant that Joan had a very hard act to follow and this she did with aplomb, kindness and thoughtfulness in all her dealings with others around her. In 1984 she was honored with office of President and again continued with her devotion to the breed and to the BDC.

In 1980 The B.D.C. held the first World Congress of The Dalmatian and it was during this 4 day event with visitors and contributions from many parts of the world that Joan using all her quiet and confident skills as Chairman really ensured that all the activities of the Congress ran like clockwork. She very quietly and efficiently was here, there and, everywhere, assisting where necessary and guiding when required and thoroughly deserved the praise and recognition she received afterwards.

During her time with us she developed a fountain of knowledge of the breed which she was very happy to pass on to any that sought it. In her early days she would have been in contact with some of those who were considered to be not only knowledgeable of the breed but had the ability to demonstrate their knowledge when officiating in the Show Ring. Persons such as Dr. Franklin, Betty Clay, Rita Monkhouse, Bill Siggers, Bert Essam and Leo Wilson but to name just a few. It was undoubtedly these contacts that gave her, her great wisdom of Dalmatians.

Joan’s knowledge of the breed was truly recognized when in 1959 she was appointed to award C.C.`s at the April Club Show and subsequently was a very popular Championship Show Judge of our breed for many years thereafter. Her opinion of a dogs quality was sought very frequently outside the show ring and it must be recorded that she was always willing to give her opinion in the kindest possible way. Joan never attempted to voice her opinions when asked, in a forcing better than thou manner. She always quietly and kindly gave her views to those asking her. She was a joy to discuss any aspects of the breed in the furtherance of its well being.

It was this earnest desire for the well being of Dalmatians that Phyllis Piper called upon her to house not wanted Dalmatians in the early days of the Dalmatian Rescue service.

Joan will also be remembered with the great support from Terry of their days in recent years for traveling to Shows in their Motor Caravan. For Joan the Caravan was home from home for her beloved dogs who always had the best seats. There was also a warm welcome for others visiting the Caravan, whether for advice, a cup of tea or even something stronger.

Yes Joan, we will all miss you greatly, it has been a privilege to have known you and may you now rest in peace on your many laurels.

John Wholey