WING CMDR W A J (Jimmy) Iles, former chairman of Crufts and
a member of the Kennel club General Committee from 1975 to
1988, has died aged 88, writes Bernard Hall. He will be missed
by a wide variety of friends both in the gundog world and
His life in dogs really began when he was asked to steward
at an open show at Stroud in Gloucestershire in 1956. From
that day he became more and more actively involved, particularly
in the administration of shows and especially the United Retriever
Club of which he was chairman for 21 years and president for
a further 20 years.
judged well over 150 shows in Britain and fulfiled over 50
BIS appointments world-wide, 41 of which were in Britain.
One such which he especially remembered was judging best in
show jointly with the late Ed Dixon, then chairman of the
Canadian Kennel Club, at the show in Bermuda associated with
the seventh World Congress of Kennel Clubs.
Jimmy Iles was born on September 27, 1913, and at one time
was tutored for Holy Orders with a view to entering the Church,
but it was the war which changed that and the Royal Air Force
became his career, serving with them for 26 years.
During the Second World War he served in Bomber command and
Maintenance Command in the UK and after the war was posted
to the Middle East where besides his normal duties he was
appointed director of Forces Broadcasting (Egypt and Aden).
During a tour to Aden in the 1960s he interviewed a number
of sporting personalities, including two MCC touring cricket
teams. Sport was a great interest but it was at tennis that
he the RAF at the inter-services tournement at Wimbledon.
On his return to England from the Middle East he was posted
to the Ministry of Defence.
When first he was commissioned in the Royal Air Force he specialised
in explosives and chemicals. At the end of the Second World
War he retired but rejoined the RAF after a short period of
When he finally retired from the RAF he took on the office
of county appeals officer (Hampshire) for the Red Cross.
He and wife, Muriel, had their first introduction to dogs
in 1952 after returning to England from his posting in Egypt.
Both had been with dogs before but it was now that their real
interest began and their breed was Golden Retrievers. Following
those early days there were many Glennessa Goldens, outstanding
among which was their first stud dog, Glennessa Crofter of
Empshott, after which their home, Crofters Heron, at Fox near
Amport in Hampshire was named.
Involvement with gundogs inevitably meant involvement with
gundog clubs, especially the United Retriever Club, of which
he was chairman for 21 years from 1961 and then president
until his death.
He was also important in his breed club, the Golden Retriever
Club, whose chairman he was also to become. He was president
of Bath Canine Society, of Berkshire Downs and Chilterns GRC,
the City of Bristol CS and the SE Welsh Springer Spaniel Society.
He was a member of the Connaught Lodge of Freemasons.
He and his wife bred Golden Retrievers for over 40 years before
taking on Irish Red and White Setters as a second gundog breed.
United Retriever Club was founded in 1946 and Jimmy and Muriel
started the Hampshire Area (now Hampshire and South West)
in 1960 and they were helped in the early days by their two
daughters, Nicola and Julia.
He was elected to the Kennel Club in 1965 and his commitment
to its work grew over the years, culminating in his appointment
as chairman of the 1988 Crufts show in succession to Sir Dudley
Forwood. He was only to serve for single year in this office
as it coincided with the year of his 75th birthday and compulsory
retirement on age grounds from KC committees. He was then
made a life member of the Kennel Club.
During his time on the KC General Committee he served at various
times on all of its sub-committees with the exception of the
Finance and General Purposes and was chairman or vice-chairman
of them all at one time or another.
His introduction to committee work came from his appointment
to the field trials sub-committee and he was always proud
of the fact that it was during his term as chairman of Crufts
that the green carpeting, now so much a feature of the shore,
But Jimmys interests were much wider than his involvement
in the world of dogs. While in the RAF much of his spare time
was taken up with amateur theatricals and his Am Dram
experience was to help with the biggest production he had
ever put on... Crufts.
He was also a talented artist, working mainly in water colours
and black and white. A keen horticulturist he was always proud
to show friends around his garden, where he loved to relax.
He supported the work of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution
and more recently had become keenly interested in Canine Partners
for Independence. He was a talented man with a sharp brain
and a phenomenal memory. He had a love of music, including
the big band sound of Glenn Miller. He also had a great interest
in architecture and old buildings, an interest he shared with
his friend, the late Sir John Betjeman, who was godfather
to his daughter Julia.
Yet another interest was bell ringing and on the occasion
of his 60th wedding anniversary he received a certificate
from the Central Council of Church Bellringers. The bells
of his local church also rang out a 1260 change of Grandsire
Doubles which lasted for 45 minutes.
Initially there is to be a private family service but at a
date to be finalised there will be a service of thanksgiving
for his life, to be held at Amport Church, Hampshire