Obituary - Brian Cummins
It is with great sadness that I write of the death of Brian Cummins at 79 after a long illness, so long it was believed he was indestructible. Brian was a massive figure in the world of dogs in the Channel Island of Jersey, he had been a member of The Kennel Club of Jersey since 1971 and served as its President from 2000 to 2007. During his tenure of office he was involved in many forward looking changes but his greatest achievement came when Champion status was awarded by the Kennel Club to the Kennel Club of Jersey Open Shows, thus creating Jersey Champions the title of which is carried proudly by those dogs who have benefited from this.
He made many lifelong friends in the dog world in the UK over the years and was happy to welcome them when they travelled to Jersey to judge or visit He was a generous host and knowledgeable spokesperson for the dog club making an appointment in Jersey one that was greatly looked forward to by all who came, this continues to the present day.
He had several breeds over the years but the breed he was most closely involved in was Pomeranians. He was a close friend of Thelma Alsford (Thelburn) in Jersey and Avril Cawthera (Lireva) in England. Brian was thrilled when his bitch Dialyngar La Boheme became a champion handled by Avril, he also owned a white Standard Poodle, Montravia Donna Rosita at Fralex, which qualified for The Puppy of the Year competition handled by Alexander Hurley. In later years he owned a Black Russian Terrier bitch, Anya, who lived in harmony with the Poms.
Brian’s other lifelong interest was Junior Handling. He was, with Jacqui Hurley, a founder member of The Jersey Junior Handlers and helped to run the famous Jersey International Easter Matches. In its hey day large numbers of children travelled from the UK and the continent to the Island for the week long competition. Several of those handlers have continued their interest in dogs and can be seen today competing at the highest level in the show ring, breeding and judging, one even became a canine journalist!
Brian was a huge personality and leaves an unfillable gap in the world of dogs in the Channel Islands, he enjoyed life to the full and was at his happiest amongst dog folk. Brian was also a great and proud family man and my thoughts are with his three sons and all his family.
Personally I will miss my friend but value beyond words the time we spent together.
There are times in your life when you meet someone for the first time and you just know that you’re going to get on. I first met Brian Cummings on the afternoon of Friday 24th March 2006 at the Monteray Hotel in St Helier. I was on my own and it was the first time I was to cover a Kennel Club of Jersey Championship Show for Our Dogs. Although apprehensive, I needn’t have worried. As soon as I shook hands with Brian I knew I’d be OK. Eileen my wife felt the same when I introduced her to him later that year. He was extremely grateful that his champ shows were to receive the publicity he always felt they deserved and I’d like to think we didn’t disappoint him
Brian was a wonderful man to spend time with. He was an excellent raconteur and could hold your attention with stories not just of dogs and dog shows, but also of the years he worked for Gerald Durrell at the then Jersey Zoo and now Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. Gerry, as he called him, was a man he had tremendous respect for and I have sat for hours listening to him tell stories including the famous story of Jambo the Gorilla and the small boy who fell into the Gorilla enclosure!
On the other hand I could tell stories of Brian, like the time he was stopped and breathalised in St Helier. Although he tested negative there isn’t space here to tell the whole story. Ask me when you see me and I’ll tell it to you.
However, there is one small thing which I always found poignant. In the Channel Islands they have this splendid idea of having an after show dinner after every show. When Brian was President of the Kennel Club of Jersey he always started the formalities with “Good Evening Everybody”, and always the reply from everybody was “Good Evening Brian” I don’t think it was just good manners. I like to think it was the affection the dog show folk of the Channel Islands had for him.
Although it’s only been three and a half years since I first met Brian it seems much longer. I wish I had known him for longer but I will treasure the few memories I have. He was a thoroughly nice man and a gentleman. Eileen and I will both miss him.
John D Jackson
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