|Obituary - Jacqui Bayliss (Hurstfield Swedish Vallhunds)
Sadly the day that many of us were dreading became a reality and Jacqui passed peacefully away with members of her family by her side after a long and extremely brave battle with cancer on Sunday 21st January 2018, she was 74, writes Dr Chris Millard
Jacqui's record in the breed speaks for itself, she bred well over 33 Champions nationally and internationally. She was consistently top dog breeder for many successive years, was BOB at Crufts many, many times, bred the first full tailed Swedish vallhund champion in the UK, and was the first to ever win a Championship show Group before the pastoral/working group split. She was a breed historian, International judge, and author.
Swedish vallhunds were her lifelong passion and throughout her long illness provided her with the will to go on. Her long association with this breed began in 1979 when she obtained her foundation bitch Frejgola of Hildrek from the late Nicky Gascoigne. She was shortly followed by Norsled Montmorency and Ch Norsled Minka of Hurstfield. I think it was Minka who provided the foundation for Jacqui's breeding programme being by the Swedish Import Valle of Ryslip and Ch Norsled Fenella. I think it is fair to say that the strength of the Hurstfield kennel lay in its bitch lines. Jacqui used a combination of outcross and early UK lines, mostly Norsled, and back into her own (but never too close), consistently to produce a string of Champions.
Apart from Minka she regarded Ch Hurstfield Kilana as one of her best. Born in 1990 by Ch Drammericans Axtane (H.Dram X H. Candida) X H. Barbro of Svedala. She was quickly made up and was breed record holder for many years. She was also the first vallhund to win a group at a Championship show. Jacqui was never afraid to use a pet dog if she thought it had qualities that would enhance her breeding programme. She used Norsled Fina owned by her great friend Ralph Wilkes on Ch.H.Minka to produce Ch H. Beth another consistent winner.
Jacqui imported many vallhunds herself over the years but never overused them, and either placed them in pet homes or with other keen exhibitors, A good example is Can Ch Bronwylfa Danyon who came from Mrs Stevens in Australia (Norsled Disraeli X Chatka Nora). He produced Jacqui's constant companion Ch.Kitsam Laylas Knallie of Hurstfield (B.Danyon X Ch.H.Kaeleila) bred by Mal Allen, who appears on the old Kennel Clubs conformation and movement video.
Jacqui was never afraid to use other imports. She was one of the few to use the Swedish import Repetas Ingolf of Starvon (Repetas HonkenX R. Gullan). Bred by Inga Britt and Bengt Johansson in Sweden. He produced Ch H. Damask at Moonsfield, and H. Dram. Jacqui admired the coat colour and intensity and excellent temperament in particular produced, from this combination. Indeed Jacqui provided foundation stock for many breeders both in the UK, and all over the world.
She also co-operated very closely with Ulla Gamberg of the famous Vastgota kennel in Canada (pictured with Jacqui) Champions were produced for both kennels over the years, and This co-operation resulted in the brother and sister Ch H.Red Rayda and Ch. H.Red Ribbons (Norsled Fang X Can Ch Legovall Vastgota Ms Attitude. It gave her great pleasure to see Rayda win the group at Bath Championship show, and go BOB at Crufts 2015, and indeed watching him continuing to win as a veteran to this day.
Another key collaborator was Janet van Iperen-Hovens of the van de Kloostertuin kennel in France. Many lovely vallhunds were produced by this association but Jacqui was very fond of Fr Ch H.Sable Gra Beri (H. Phrode of Kitsam x Vastgota Cloudberi Arctic Gold) .
Jacqui had an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of pedigrees and used this to produce vallhunds of excellent size, breed type and temperament, and very importantly without what she considered was any kind of exaggeration. She was also very keen to retain its working ability and was one of the first to train vallhunds to herd sheep, which she did with Minka and H Anglia. Obtaining the help of her local shepherd and keeping a few sheep herself.
For many years Jacqui co-operated with the late Ralph Wilkes and acted as breed historian, latterly in an independent capacity. When I first met her at Birmingham National in 1982, we immediately got on and she kindled my interest in pedigrees. We spent many hours researching, and in those days handwriting pedigrees, including mating combinations. This proved a useful background for what would become her Magnum opus the production of a handbook of the breed entitled A Study of the Swedish Vallhund.
When Ralph died Jacqui promised him she would write a book on the breed and it was quite an undertaking. It took her four years to produce and she eventually published it herself, sending copy to a printer in China! She had to learn how to use publishing programmes and typesetting, and I'm sure I was not alone in receiving a call in the wee small hours asking if I could send her a picture of such a dog, or the screen's gone blank how do I re-set it! This book remains the most comprehensive introduction to the breed and was amongst one of her finest achievements.
Jacqui was also incredibly devoted to the UK breed club, the Swedish Vallhund Society, and served for many years as secretary, and right upto her death President. She was at one time breed historian, health rep (now health co -coordinator) and the breed health seminars. She remained active in these roles in spite of her illness. Indeed I don't know of many people who would be able to perform at a breed education day whilst recently having undergone extensive surgery and treatment.
Jacqui regularly awarded CCs, and was one of the few breed specialists to judge twice at Crufts. She also judged at international specialities in Sweden, Holland, USA, Finland and Canada. Her last judging appointment was at the SVS Championship show in 2015, and it was very fitting that she should retire at the Club she loved so much.
Jacqui was also very generous with her knowledge and expertise. She acted as a mentor for many in the breed including myself, and as individuals we all owe her a profound debt of gratitude. If she took to you she would be generous to a fault, and often helped people acquire new foundation stock. Indeed one is sat leaning on my leg as I write this tribute. She had a wonderful sense of humour, was loyal, enthusiastic, freethinking and was a fantastic mimic, she was naturally gregarious, and would talk to anyone. She was always on the go, never still, constantly thinking about projects and vallhunds matters. Although she had no scientific background (a point she would often make herself), she was quick to pick up ideas, spot trends and patterns appearing in the breed, and had a great interest in breed health. She regularly donated a proportion of her book sales to the health fund, and also produced a calendar to raise funds for a retinopathy study. She could also be impulsive, and single minded to the point of stubbornness. People will be surprised to hear that she was very sensitive about her age. I once made the fatal error of saying she was like a mother to me. "I'm not that much older than you" came the retort, "think of me as your big sister". She also hated having her photo taken; in fact I have had great difficult finding suitable photos for this tribute. However, I have found two from a trip to Canada of which I'm sure she would approve. There was a great deal of fun and laughter when in Jacqui's company.
Jacqui loved to travel and had visited many parts of the world, usually connected with a dog-related theme. She had been to Sweden many times, a country she loved as much as her own. Canada was also a special place for her; she once said if she were younger she would go and live there.
Jacqui had a stockman's eye and loved animals. She kept cats, chickens, goats and sheep, and even considered breeding rabbits as a commercial concern. She also worked as a pedigree representative for the Southeast, where I'm sure she used her knowledge of stock, feeding and people skills to advantage.
She was a clever businesswoman setting up from scratch a successful boarding kennel, cattery and farm shop, which received patronage from celebrities such as Paul and Linda McCartney. She was also connected to the old Bailey through her family, and knew the late Judge Argyle and his wife Anne who were also involved in the dog world.
She loved buying property doing it up and then selling it and starting again.
She also had a passion for singing and became an active member of Barbershop choirs.
Her family were an extremely important part of her life. She was very proud of all her children's and grand-children's achievements and would regularly update her friends of what they were doing. It was very satisfying to know that her final move was to be closer to them and she finally accepted the wonderful support they all provided.
I have decided not to talk in detail about her illness, however, I do want people to recognise her bravery and absolute commitment to get on with it and carry on. She showed immense fortitude and stoicism. Her inability to do the things she wanted to do frustrated and irritated her and I believe she took it as a sign of personal weakness. Eventually after much nagging from family and friends she went to the Dr and was diagnosed with cancer. She had three operations, chemotherapy and a variety of medications and still continued dogmatically to carry on with her many interests and commitments. This amid requests from family and friends to slow down, retire and take things easy. She was determined that she would have two last litters so she could leave a legacy. She carefully placed the resulting puppies with those she valued and trusted, and knew they would use the principles she had instilled to use wisely and incorporate in their own breeding programmes. She fought so courageously and tenaciously right up until the last, supported by her wonderful family and her close circle of friends. It was unfortunate that she lost contact with many people as her condition deteriorated simply due to her inability to use the phone.
My last conversation with Jacqui was just before Christmas and it was very difficult, not because anything untoward was said indeed quite the reverse, when she told me she had to part with her last dogs I think we both realised it would be the last time we would speak to each other. The last thing she asked me to do was send her pictures of my dogs and I know she asked others to do the same. We made plans for me to visit in the spring, sadly that visit will not take place, but I know there was a flurry of pictures on Facebook and she looked at the pictures with her daughter the day before she died and smiled.
To her family and especially her children Karen, Sam and David we all send our deepest sympathies, they have lost a wonderful mother and grandmother, but they should be reassured by the many tributes paid to her over the days following her death, not just from the UK but Worldwide. Her friends have lost a generous friend, mentor and confidant. The breed has lost a very enthusiastic and passionate advocate, talented breeder and judge. She has left a fantastic legacy, and as I write this one litter from her last R litter is already in the nest and another on its way, Life without Jacqui in it is going to be hard for everyone to accept, and I'm sure many tears will be shed. It is reassuring that she can now rest easy reunited with her beloved "woofs". However, she would I'm sure not want us to dwell on her death, she would want us all to recognise a life well lived, and in the way she wanted, actively ensure that the legacy she has left to the breed she loved so much is used in to advantage to produce typical, happy, healthy vallhunds for many years to come.
Her Funeral will be held on Tuesday 20th February at 12.30, Vinters Park Crematorium, Bearsted Rd, Maidstone ME14 5LG.
Family Flowers only, donations if desired to Heart of Kent Hospice
Funeral directors Family Funeral Services Bearsted, 4 Cavendish Way, Bearsted, Maidstone, Kent ME15 8PW. Tel 01622 260200.