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Obituary - Averil Cawthera (1933-2008)

Despite knowing how ill Averil was it was with enormous sadness that I learned of her death last week aged 75.

We had been friends for many years and apart from our mutual interest in dogs (and the Spitz breeds in particular) we had both been teachers in large comprehensive schools although whereas I ended my career twenty years ago as a humble head of department she reached the height of her profession, becoming a highly respected head teacher in the Isle of Sheppy and then in Middleborough. Even after retirement she continued to work - this time as a consultant to the Quality and Curriculum Authority's Ofstead inspectorate. Her original subjects were mathematics and music and until the onset of her severe arthritis, she continued to practice and was a wonderful pianist - like so many of us she had a rich life outside the world of dogs within which most of us best knew her.

Averil was brought up with working Gundogs in a farming environment and with her husband, who pre-deceased her, she owned boarding kennels in the north-east of England living in an extraordinary house overlooking wonderful countryside. Here they began to breed and show dogs as a family hobby. They began with Samoyeds and then the Pomeranians for which she became so well known, importing and adding German Spitz to the tribe when they were first introduced into the UK. The Livera prefix (derived from spelling 'Averil' backwards for those who do not already know) bred many champions and two children. Donald Cawthera who shares the prefix and Averil-Cawthera Purdy who has followed in her mother's footsteps to become a well-known breeder, exhibitor and judge in these and other breeds and has now even returned to her roots by buying a boarding kennel with her partner, Sean Gwynne.

Averil took great pride in the continuing success of the prefix and in all they made up seven Samoyed and sixteen Pomeranian champions and a German Spitz champion too, with a total of 194 challenge certificates between them. She loved all her dogs, of course but her special favourites were The White Devil at Lireva and Ch Lireva’s Shooting Star. She was also particularly proud of the white Pomeranians with she had so much success in the 1980s.

She served for many years on the Samoyed Association Executive committee and up till the end of 2007 was the secretary of the Pomeranian Club, serving in this capacity for over 24 years.
All who knew her will all miss her at the ringside for she was always warm and friendly and very pleased to give advice and information to anyone willing to spend time with her.

As the Pomeranian cClub website so well puts it: ‘It is with great regret and sorrow that we inform the Pomeranian World of the passing of Mrs Averil Cawthera, a much loved and respected lady not only in Pomeranians but in many breeds including Samoyeds and German Spitz.’
Rest in Peace, Averil.

David Cavill