National English Rabbit Club
Mr Phil Shaw
Well this year we have had some ups & downs and fortunately the good outweighs the bad, under the regime of our new president Roy Wearmouth it has been a year where we have been shown the way by newcomers to the English rabbit, what a big plus this is for the club, I can’t mention everybody’s name throughout the different topics but i think best in show awards to Brian Taylor and junior Alicia Howells a twice area club winner are well worth a mention and of course the fine Gold Cup win by Brian Hirstle and Aaron Dewhirst can only encourage all newcomers as it shows anyone of us can breed a flyer.
If any member knows of a non breeder Fancy judge that would like to be put forward to the next ballot please encourage them to join the club now as they need to be a member first.
Unfortunately this year we have lost some prominant members, with Geoff Midwood, Fred Haslam and Gilbert Martin all being life members of the NERC. And all winners of the Gold Shield, all three concentrated on coat, colour and quality of spot and current fanciers must continue the good work that they put into the fancy. If there was to be a trophy for best trio they would surely be top contenders.
Although we are all saddened by this loss we must congratulate Derek Page and Andy Lethbridge on becoming new life members, both of these fanciers have been members for over fifty years. They must both be older than what I thought!
On to Scotland – Janet and myself arrived at Llanark and followed Duane Germany onto the car park at the back of the show hall. After a natter the rabbits were penned and Janet and I made our way to the Robertson's Arms hotel at Carnwath and our evening meal and room was first class, as we all know, our club president Roy Wearmouth made the tort of Ian McMonnells the Gold Shield winner and just to show it wasn’t a fluke the same rabbit won the adult stock show as well – well deserved!......... Even if Ian is a Jock!
Back to the hotel and i had exactly the same meal as the night before (best Scottish salmon) and once again it was beautiful, I can absolutely recommend this hotel to anyone as the rooms, breakfasts,evening meals and staff are brilliant, a really enjoyable weekend even if i was runner up for the shield.
The year finished off with a fantastic Sale of the Stars which raised £1300 with the proceeds going towards the 125 year celebration show and I thought it was quite fitting when Steve Germany suggested who we could approach to judge Best in Show. Having won the Gold Shield with his partner in 1964 and 1965 and again in 1997, is a past secretary and president and also a life member of the national club, he was instrumental in the start of the Spotlight and the Sale of the Stars, so we all should feel honoured that Len heath has accepted our invitation to judge Best in Show at the 125 celebration show or in Len's own words “as long as my health allows me to” that counts for all of us Len.
GARY LEES (FIRSHILL STUD)
When Keith said he was looking for an article from a Welshman, and Irishman and a Scotsman how could I refuse?! As I pondered on what to write my thoughts went back to my start in the fancy some sixty years ago and the pleasure derived from the hobby.
At that time English were popular I Scotland, although, many fanciers, as has been the case over the years, were not National orientated, mainly due to the distance and cost of attending club shows. Although a few have over the years made their mark and hopefully this will continue to be the case! I have attended and enjoyed many events, regrettably about thirty years ago I decided to stop due to other demands on my income.
When I started, stock went by rail to most shows, the thrill of opening the box on return to check the results will never be forgotten! My local club, Peebles Fur club, ran a two day event known as Scotland’s premier show. On arrival stock were fed hay, oats and greens and food put in the boxes for the return journey. The railway clerk provided a list of boxes that were required for certain trains, these were collected by the railway lorry. Woe betide the show manager if they were loaded onto the wrong lorry! On the Friday evening a dinner was held with a guest speaker, this was the highlight of the show. I was a very proud junior when invited.
Box shows were the yardstick for learning about different breeds and how to judge them, in my case it kindled a desire to judge. My local club held monthly shows on a Saturday night in the local dentist’s workshop (no health and safety regs then!) at these events you had to remember the box number of the class winners, if you got it wrong in the duplicates you were in trouble! Fanciers were very helpful at one time the NERC had a scheme where junior fanciers were assisted with stock, a boom to a junior struggling to get started.
The most important thing I learned in these early days was showmanship was everything, it reflected the breeders’ ability to produce a good specimen and to develop its potential to perfection. I was also advised, having convinced myself I had a good one, I then had to convince the rabbit it was a winner, whether it understood is doubtful. It was drummed into me never to part with stock you wouldn’t breed from yourself, sock had to have type, colour, coat, with work in the correct pattern and no stray spots.
The purchase of a car gave the opportunity to judge and when elected to most fancy panels resulted in engagements the width and breadth of the country. When Sally and I got married I had so many engagements we had to have a midweek wedding and fitted in a judging engagement on that Saturday at Glossop! I will never forget the minister’s expression when I explained I didn’t have a free Saturday due to rabbit shows.
There is no doubt that the way of life is changing and the fancy in general will have to change. How, is a good question, unfortunately today’s fanciers want instant success which makes it very difficult to encourage prospective breeders into English.
Regards to myself, having spent a lifetime showing rabbits, cavies and canaries, I have now entered the twilight age as a good friend informed me. I have reduced the stock and will turn the clock back and support the local shows and have an enjoyable day out at the same time hope to breed a ‘flyer’ which is the ultimate aim of breeding ENGLISH.