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Obituary - Leslie Page

Leslie Page

THE WORLD of dogs has lost one of its last true characters. He was approaching his 92nd birthday next month and I would imagine somewhat annoyed that he didn’t outlive his father who lived to 95.

Leslie was born in Walsall into the world of show dogs with his mother owning one of the big kennels of Great Danes and his father having Bulldogs. He lost his mother at any early age and he was then brought up by his extended family. Leslie would recount many a story of Bill Siggers then the kennel man for J. R. Rank’s Great Dane kennel, coming to purchase Great Danes from his mother’s lines for very large amounts of money.

Leslie eventually found his way to Cocker Spaniels where he made up several champions of his own under the prefix Dellah - the most notable being Ch Dellah Merrymaker of Wykey, who won 17 CCs, and Ch Quettadene Mark which was owned in partnership with Mrs Woodhouse. His judging career started and he was passed to award CCs in all the Gundog breeds as well as in Great Danes, Cavaliers, Petit Griffons, the Gundog Group and BIS. He received the greatest honour of his career when he judged BIS at Crufts in 1998, were he gave the Welsh Terrier of Judy Averis and Dave Scawthorn’s Ch Saredon Forever Young the top spot. He had judged in many parts of the world from the then Rhodesia to Bermuda, as well as around Europe and the USA. But his first love was always Cocker Spaniels and in 1999 he accorded the honour of President of the Cocker Spaniel Club.

But I would like to talk about the Leslie Page that a lot of us knew. He was the most generous of souls that would do his best to help out anyone. And indeed he was instrumental in starting many a career in dogs. The one enduring characteristic of Leslie was his wicked sense of humour, with the smile and a glint in his eye to match. But he was also a good dogman and knew more about dogs than many will ever know. My fondest memories, of which I have many, were at shows such as the South Wales and Mon Cocker show at Barry Island Memorial Hall. Many of the characters from the South Wales show scene would turn up such as Hubert Arthur and of course Ron and Tydfil Bebb - the bar would inevitably become the focal point at the end of the day. Then the show might move on to the Bebb’s house and a fish and chip supper, and if the Gin and lemonade had flowed for long enough renditions of ‘Rosemary’ or ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ would be performed with Eylis Jones.

Leslie was a great believer in the local evening shows and served on Walsall Canine Society for over 50 years. The evening shows were always a great social event around the West Midlands and one could go from one show to another the following evening. And this is where you would learn a great deal from the local stalwarts such as Bill Pinches and Les Atkinson etc. One of the great challenges for those of us that might have had the job of transporting him to a show (he never learnt to drive – a very clever move on his part) was that of the ‘one for the road’ syndrome. This was quite a common occurrence at most shows and it might take some considerable persuasion to get him away from the bar. One instance of that was after he had judged BIS at South Wales Kennel Association at Crick. He had given BIS to Michael Coad’s Ch Tiopepi Mad Louie at Pamplona and we then spent a very pleasant few hours with Geoff and Michael along with Andrew Brace at their caravan celebrating. It got late and it was time to go home but this proved to be very difficult as the syndrome quickly kicked in. Anyway, eventually we got back to his house in Walsall and the fun began.

The mission to get Leslie into the house after he’d fallen into the Hydrangea bush next to the front door was difficult with tears of laughter rolling down my face. But all was well with just a bit of head to nurture the next day. As you can tell Leslie was always one to enjoy what he did and not become too serious about life. A lesson that many in the dog world could do with remembering in today’s fancy.

His other great love was the Midland Cocker Spaniel Club were he was Chairman for many years. The Midlands was a real hotbed of Cocker Spaniel Kennels in the 70s and 80s with the likes of Lochranza, Classicway, Quettadene, Bournhouse, Cornbow, Styvechale, Cilleine and so the list would go on. This was the basis of what was affectionately known by the rest of the country as the Midland Mafia with Leslie as its most experienced member (The Don).

Like many people, I’m going to miss Leslie as he played a great part in my life. Of course those that knew him will all have their own memories that I’m sure will bring a smile. I can only hope that his great friends, Gwen Broadley, Bobby James, Ron and Tydfel Bebb and Dilys Schofield, will have been there to meet him at the gate of the great dog show in the sky. Hopefully to get his entrance money like he would ours and a catalogue as well.

Leslie’s funeral will be held on Tuesday 31st March at Streetly Crematoriam, Walsall, at 12.30 and then a drink at the Fairlawns Hotel, Aldridge, afterwards. Family flowers only and any donations will be split between the Acorns Childrens’ Hospice and the Midland Cat Resue.

Bye, my friend.

Julien Barney n

LAST WEEK I received a call which affected me deeply. It was concerning someone that I have been closely associated with over the last few years, Mr Leslie Page, a true gentleman, and President of Midland Counties Championship Show.

Each day I would have the pleasure of his company driving him to the show from the hotel. He would talk about his days as a boy with the family and the Great Danes that they had; Leslie spoke with such passion about them and the other breeds that he became involved with.
I will miss the words each time we arrived at the gates of the show saying ‘President’s Car’. I will miss so much his company at breakfast checking that he had taken his pill, getting him to the car - he was such a wonderful man.

Sir, I will miss you very much, the seat is empty, but I know you will still be with me.

Peter J. Jolley n

LESLIE PAGE joined the Committee of Midland Counties in 1977 but prior to this he had helped the Society for many years and continued to meet and greet exhibitors at seven o'clock every morning of the show and was most reluctant to give this up when he was made President in 1994.

He was a most helpful President who gave me a phone call most Sunday mornings and in committee his experience, wit and advice most welcome at meetings. Ann Trott and I had worked with Leslie at what was known as the three Birmingham Shows for 43 years and he has always been part of our dog scene.

Along with the rest of the committee we will miss him for all the parts he played in our Society.

Margaret Everton
Midland Counties Canine Society Secretary n

I HAD known Leslie since I was about 14-years-old and went to Limited and Sanction Shows in the Black Country and Midlands with my first ever dog.

He was a hugely popular figure who I remember most vividly being on the door at Bromsgrove CS Shows in the late 1970s/early 1980s and welcomed everyone with great warmth. Over the years I have benefitted from his knowledge and guidance, most recently the advice he gave me when I became Chairman.

He will be very sadly missed.

Robert Greaves
Midland Counties Canine Society Chairman

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