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Mr Will McCourt

We were all shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Will McCourt on December 23rd. Will had had surgery six days earlier and there were some unforeseen post-operative complications which sadly proved fatal.

Will was a "man of Kent", having been born and raised in Margate. His chosen career was civil engineering and his early work life was spent as a mining surveyor in Kent. He was very proud of his mining roots. Throughout his career he worked in several large and small civil engineering companies. He had a tremendous work ethic working right up until the end and at the age of 71 was still working full time as a senior estimator for Ascott, based in Middleton, Manchester. His work took him all over the country and he was invaluable for directions to dog show venues.

Will married Sue 24 years ago, although he once told me that she had caught his eye several years earlier contributing to a TV programme on various dog breeds for Central TV. He was the backroom boy of the successful Silhills. He did not attend many shows and was quite happy to stay at home looking after the dogs. He loved the dogs and it was obvious to any visitors that the dogs loved him. Will was very proud of the many successes of the Silhills – the Skyes, the Lowchens and, more recently, the Aussies. Two of the group-winning Skyes were owned by him – Ch Sundance Kid of Silhill and Ch Glorfindel Sir Scott of Silhill. The latter was, of course, the famous "haircut dog" who became the centre of a media storm when they picked up on the story. I can see Will now, calmly taking calls from the various papers and taking it all in his stride. Will was a member of West Midland Terrier Society and Midland Counties Norfolk Terrier Association.

He was a kind, generous man, quite happy to stay in the background. However, after group wins he was always there supporting Sue and the dogs round the BIS ring. He was delighted by their successes and you can guarantee that he would ensure that there was a special treat for the winning dogs. When he heard that the Aussie, Ch Millvalley Monopoly at Silhill, had won the group at Birmingham National 2004 last year he turned up to the celebrations with two bottles of Bollinger to ensure that the win was properly celebrated. That gesture was so typical of Will.

A service was held at Stafford Crematorium on Friday 7th January 2005 and the room was packed with friends and colleagues. Will would have been touched, and possibly a little embarrassed, to see quite so many people celebrating his life. Hopefully Sue can take some comfort from the fact that there were so many friends present. His favourite restaurant was "La Terrazza" in Rugeley and Sue generously provided refreshments after the service at that restaurant.

There were some lovely floral tributes and donations were made to the Rheumatology Unit at Cannock Hospital.

Paul Eardley