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Obituary - Roger Stone (Vanitonia)

Roger Stone

HOW CAN I start to summarise what a friend’s life has meant to me? Do I start with his impact on a personal level? His kindness to my disabled son to whom he was a fashion icon, even when he arrived at a show in a green suit and yellow accessories and declared himself to be a daffodil?! Or the self-pride my son developed after a shopping spree with him and Graham - fine feathers make fine birds.

Roger StoneOr do I start with his kindess to me after my beloved husband Simon died, taking me to the theatre even when he had to prod me in the ribs to stop me snoring during long, quiet sections of a play?

Or with his kindness to me as a fellow breeder and lover of Standard Poodles? His help when we couldn’t rid ourselves of the dreaded parvo; when no vaccinations were helping at all, he guided us through two years of despair.

Or the fun of winning the Crufts Dog CC with Catmint and he winning the Bitch CC with Prunella Prune and then us both dancing round the ring like a pair of children when we were called to the centre by Judge Rachel Gregory who enquired if either of us was interested in BOB? Hours he spent getting my boy ready for the Group and cheering him when he finished as runner-up.

Such a generous character: no saint, often controversial, but oh-so-clever a breeder. Others will no doubt pay tribute to his achievements in all sizes of Poodles, Chinese Cresteds and other breeds - and even his cats!

A friend for life - well, most of his life but not enough of mine because now I shall miss him so much.

So, who can follow where my good friend Roger Stone has led? Lee and Tom, the two partners in whom he put so much trust with his life and his legacy - they will not fail him, or Vanitonia, of which he was so proud.

Nina Dible (Leighbridge & Liebling)

OH, HOW do I start to write about John Roger Stone? He passed away, at home, on Monday 30th March 2009 just two days before his 70th birthday. Thankfully he is now at peace.

Before he became so involved in the dog ‘game’ he was a dancer and was part of the theatre scene. The Vanitonia kennel was founded in 1962 by Roger and his partner Graham Thompson who sadly died in 1995. Graham stopped at home most of the time whilst Roger was at the shows. The Kaston Kennels are famous for boarding and grooming but also hit an infamous time when the RSPCA thought that they had a case again Roger and Lee. I know that this hit both of them very hard but thankfully the dog show world helped to make this harrowing time a little easier for them.

Their first step on the ladder was winning a Res CC with the white Toy Vanitonia Snow Boots from Conersk in, I think, 1971. In 1972 the black Standard bitch Ch Vicmars Boname won their first ever CC at SKC under George Leatt. She became a Champion in just four shows winning CCs from Bill Jobson and Ivan Strawson. She went on to win many more CCs as well as being an excellent producer. Next came another black, a granddaughter of Boname, Ch Vanitonia Prunella Prune.
Roger became a Championship show judge in 1977 when he judged Miniatures at Bath where he gave BOB to a newly crowned Ch Orlaine Fonteyn.

The start of the Vanitonia Toy dynasty was crowned in 1979. The lovely ‘Miriam’ became Ch Vanitonia School For Scandal. Roger and Graham were joined by Alan Dredge. The Vanitonia Champions go on and on. In Standards there was Jean Broomsgrove's Ch Vanitonia Victorian Scandal (Jean has been to some of the shows since Roger had his stroke, helping with his wheelchair). John Marshall owned in partnership with Roger and Graham Ch V Proclamation, Ch V Calamity Jane, Ch V Joe Public, Ch, Swed & Am Ch V Heavens Fury, the prolific producer Ch Harbovis Heaven Can Wait for Vanitonia who was handled by Andrew Watkins who was by this point working with Roger and Graham (Roger saw the potential of the youngster and imported him from the famous Harbovis kennel and his pedigree was outstanding). Another import, this time from Carlos Renau, was Ch Del Zarzoso Pardon My English at V. Sarah O'Higgins' owner/handler made up the elegant Ch V Queens English and Ch V Heaven Help Us; she returned the favour breeding Ch Sarnia English As It Is Spoken at Vanitonia, Carol Charles' Ch V Vivarita who was trimmed and sometimes handled by Richard Barker who was taught about Poodle care and grooming at Vanitonia.

In 1992 Lee Cox joined the kennels. Already from a well known gundog background he was soon into the full swing of things handling yet another import and another great producer, the Group & BIS winner, Ch Swed, Nord & Int Ch Racketeer Exquisit Sinner at Vanitonia. There was also the black Ch V Affidavit, the white Ch Shalankas Political Storm Over Vanitonia, Ch Montana Beware the Cat Woman at V & Ch V Violetta. Recently these have been followed by Ch Labamba Lawrence von Vanitonia (owned by Lee and Tom Isherwood who became a member of the gang in 2001). Tom's Ch V Well Did You Evah and Lee and Tom's Ch Torpaz the Talkin Point at V (a POTY finalist).
Miniatures were shown to a lesser degree with a CC won by Roger with Gillian of Montfleuri then he handled his and Graham's Ch Idadoun Black Jeramiah at V. Lee and Tom have owned and handled Ch Riomella's RioRita at V and Ch Kertellas Double Dream at V. Roger and Graham also bred the CC winning Vanitonia Gin Queen at Atastar.

The Vanitonia Toys are a legend. Miriam produced the littermates Ch & Swed V Holy Moses and Ch V Scandalizer, plus Ch V Holy Chaos and Ch V Holy Matrimony. I think that Roger's first homebred Group winner was Ch Vanitonia Holy Whisper who was owned by Alan Dredge as were Ch V Hypnotizer (Group winner & POTY finalist) and Ch Stage Whisper and Ch Careless Whisper. Liz Spencer helped to add to the ever growing list of Champions with Ch V Liquidizer, Ch V Wing & A Prayer for Perllan and Ch Near Riot at V. Brought in were Ch Starbase Timelord at V, Ch Sanleon Twelfth of Never at Rocador, Ch Ivan Option for V and Ch Liquidator from V. More Champions came in the shape of Ch The Barrister, Ch Holy Psalm, ‘Wicksy’ Ch Vanitonia Vandalizer, Ch Nevertheless, Ch Never On a Sunday, Ch Careless Hans (Brown!), Ch Ansome Prophet, Ch Lustful Hans and Ch Village Gossip. Ann Penfold won with the black bitch Ch V Victoria Plum and Philip Langdon/Arturo Sheppard made up Ch V Endless Gossip and Ch Pixiewood Vivat Regina of V whilst Malcolm Akers crowned Ch V Holy Patience Montflair.

As we get up-to-date there was Ch V Clairvoyant who was Roger's shadow round the house and she has produced the delightful and classical Roger's Ch Vanitonia Gloria May and her half-sister Susan Crummey and Tom's Ch V Contrary Mary. Roger was proud to watch as Lee and Tom's Ch & Jap Ch Smash JP Rainbow Rider at Vanitonia went on to win Groups & Res BIS as well as qualifying for the Pedigree Champions Stakes Finals.

As a judge Roger could always see potential. I remember at Manchester, he was judging Miniatures and much to my amazement (I was showing Executive at the time) he gave the Dog CC & BOB to a 10-month-old puppy! He became, very shortly, the youngest ever Champion in the breed and went on to win 38 CCs - Jackie Kitchener's Ch Michandy Qui Va La. Next time he judged he gave the Dog CC & BOB to my Executive which was his first CC after his accident in the ring and he then took Group 2 that day under the late Terry Thorn and he, too, went on to win so many great things. Another raw youngster to whom he gave a 1st CC, this time a Standard, was Marita Rogers' Ch Star of a Gun at Montravia. Dawn went on to win so many CCs and Group firsts and when Roger judged his beloved Standards at Crufts she came back, this time in pet trim and handled by Ian Rodgers and won her final CC. He loved her from first to last. The final time that Roger judged Poodles was at Windsor in 2007 when he judged Miniatures. He gave the Dog CC & BOB to the Poodle CC record holder, Ch Minarets Secret Assignment, and the Res CC to a very young upstart, my 6-month-old who became Ch Navarre To the Extreme. Yet more proof that Roger could always spot quality and could tell a good dog no matter how old or young. He judged in all four corners of the world. It was such a shame that Roger had his stroke - he had appointments to finally judge at Championship show Group level, both the Toy Group and the Utility Group but he felt that he would not be able to judge them to his high standards and so withdrew as he did from all his further breed appointments.

There are, of course, Champions worldwide carrying this prefix and many Champions in Chinese Cresteds and Clumber Spaniels but I shall leave these to their own breed correspondents.
Roger was first and foremost a true dog man. He leaves so many friends and colleagues who remember him with love, envy and now sadness. To Lee and Tom we all send our love and condolences.

Indeed the end of an era. RIP, my friend.

Liz Holmes-Leak

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