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Obituary- Jean Hardcastle (Boreasvale Keeshonden)

SADLY, THE Keeshond community mourns the passing of one of its more senior and most influential members. Jean Hardcastle of the Boreasvale Kennels in Hull passed away peacefully at home on Saturday 7th March 2009, surrounded by her family. She was 70-years-old and had been suffering from terminal cancer. Mercifully, in the end, her death came swiftly and calmly.

Jean was truly a dog person through and through. When she left school aged 14 she got a job in the kennels of the Hull Greyhound Racing Stadium, only to find that she was deemed to be too young and was asked to leave. Instead she became a kennel maid in a Boarding establishment in Surrey, which is where she made her first real contact with a Keeshond, and indeed acquired her first Keeshond puppy. When she returned to Hull she did take up her post again at the Greyhound Stadium before moving over to Blackpool to work in the world famous Wistonia Keeshond kennels for Nan and Fred Greenwood.

When she married her late husband, Mick, and established the market garden business at Paull near Hull, their home was shared with all manner of livestock. In addition to Jean’s beloved Keeshonds and Mick’s beloved pigeons, at various times they shared their lives with goats, sheep, horses and chickens, to name but a few.

Throughout her long and distinguished career in Keeshonds she has had many homebred Champions. In fact apart from at the very beginning, she very rarely bought in stock from other kennels. Exports from Boreasvale went to many places including Sweden, Finland, America and Australia. Her early years in breeding were marred by disappointments and setbacks but she persevered to build the Boreasvale kennel name into one of the most respected affixes in the breed. Some of her most famous dogs are Ch Boreasvale Bojangles, her first Champion, made up at Crufts in 1981; Ch Boreasvale Bonikita, who helped Boreasvale win the top kennel award in the North of England Keeshond Club’s Golden Jubilee year of 1986; Boreasvale Bomatic, sire of four Champions; Ch Boreasvale Bargeboy, the sire of several of today’s Champions; and more recently Ch Boreasvale Blue Horizon who won BOB and gained his title at Crufts in 2005. She was very proud of the fact that both her first and last Champions were made up at Crufts.

She became a well respected judge, awarding CCs some 12 times over the years. In the beginning, however, she was most reluctant to accept judging appointments. She was a very modest, unassuming person anyway and she always felt that she would not be able to put in words an adequate critique. She was more or less bullied into it by her friend and mentor Audrey Woodiwiss and the breed is richer for having had the wisdom and sincerity of her judging opinion. She judged the North of England Keeshond Club Championship Show in 1994, the Keeshond Club Championship Show in 1999, and Crufts in 2001. Bearing in mind her early connection with Blackpool and the Wistonia Kennels, it is perhaps fitting that both her first and her last CC appointments were at Blackpool (1982 and 2006).

She worked tirelessly for the North of England Keeshond Club serving on the Committee from 1975 to 1999, including as Vice Chairman from 1981 to 1989. Mick sadly died in December 1990 and she felt unable to contribute so much to the Club at that stage. She did, however, rejoin the Committee as Vice President in 1999, remaining in that position up to and including this year’s AGM which she attended together with the subsequent Open show, just a few days before her untimely death. She had in fact had a lovely and enjoyable day, and it is a blessing that she was able to be with and chat to so many of her close friends. She was always prepared to help others with advice and information gained from her extensive experience and her even more extensive archive of material, and this she was able to continue right up to the very end. She was also a consistent supporter of the Keeshond Club.

Since our return to the UK and in particular to the East Riding we have regularly gone over to Hull to have lunch with Jean and her close friend, Joan Shaw (Tingalary), who would travel down from Scarborough.

We have had many enjoyable afternoons sitting round Jean’s dining table, drinking tea, putting the dog world to rights and just drawing on her memories and vast knowledge of the breed. She had very strongly-held opinions about the breed, but she expressed them in a very considered and always very diplomatic way.

She is survived by her mother Carrie, three siblings, her son Stephen, and daughters Cheryl and Susan, and their respective families. She was very proud of and grateful for the way in which her family and friends rallied around her in the final months of her life. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all at this difficult time.

We have all lost a truly special person whose memory will be cherished forever. She will be sorely missed.

Ian & Elaine Stubbings (Vandersee)


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Fitting tribute to  a wonderful friend.i feel privileged to have known her,and honoured that she allowed me to have 3 of her beloved "babies" as she called them.she took great interest in,and was so proud of  their obedience careers,and we had loads of laughs about their not so obedient at times antics. she was a great lady with a big heart,willing to give help to more star in heaven, a little less brightness in the keeshond world.