In February 1987, following a series of deep and meaningful conversations with Mary Roslin Williams, Dot Gardner and others, Peter Locke of the Samlou Labradors asked me to draft a circular conveying their enthusiasm for the formation of a new club to a large number of the Labrador fraternity. Mrs Roslin Williams had only recently moved into the Malvern area from her house in Cumbria, but she was already enthusiastically involved in the local dog scene. The circular read as follows;-
The First Meeting
Eighty-five people attended a meeting at the Golden Valley Hotel, filling the small conference room to capacity. In addition to the instigators mentioned above were many stalwarts of the breed. Unfortunately, some of them, like MRW and Dot, sadly are no longer with us. The company included Dick Edwards Snr. (Lasgarn), Peter Hart (Kupros), Maj. & Mrs George Jenkins, Mr & Mrs Palmer (Jayncourt), Don Pritchett (Lornig), Nancy Turner (Chase End) - a lady Gamekeeper in her own right, Mr & Mrs Woolf (Colinwood) and Mary Young (Langdale). Among those who had travelled the farthest were David Craig from Co. Durham and Nan Leah and husband, from Cornwall.
Both the West of England Labrador Retriever Club and the Labrador Club of Wales had already given support for the emergent Club. Their main provisos being that the new club should avoid a clash of dates with those clubs already holding regular show slots and, more important, any new club should avoid poaching their field trial grounds (or else!)
I opened the meeting and requested Peter Woolf to take the chair. THe latter then asked Peter Locke to addres the assembly. Mr Locke explained the reasons why he thought a club was needed with the able and enthusiastic assistance of Dot Gardner.
After some animated discusson (was there ever one that wasn't) It was decided that whilst the club should operate in primarily Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, it should be an 'Open Society' available to all Labrador lovers. Arthur Kelly, in his letter apologising for absence, gave his support and suggested that the club would be of great interest to those living in the West Midlands area, also and this must bring it into conflict with events held by the Midland Counties Labrador Club.
Wyevern or Wyvern
Eleven names were suggested for the club and more animated discussion followed. Eventually, three names were shortlisted and finally a vote was taken and the appellation "Cotswold and Wyevern Labrador Retriever Club" was selected.
The precise spelling caused some amusement when MRW, with her customary wit, explained that whilst the word Wyevern (with and 'e') truly reflects the influence of the river Wye which would form a boundry between the areas served by the Labrador Club of Wales and the proposed new club, aWyvern is a mythical beast - and a much more frightening prospect. With the head of a dragon, the tail of a scorpion and the wings and feet of a bird, this animal, MRW declared, should not be representative of the kind of Labrador we would like to see in shows and field trails. Although, she added, there were some very near misses!
Objects and Acting Officers
With the agreement of the Kennel Club, it was proposed that the objects of the club should be to promote the pure breed of Labrador retrievers, to hold shows, and to preserve the working abilities of the breed. A founders' fee, including the first annual subscription, was set at £5.00. Joint membership would cost £8.00.
Without need for a vote, Mrs Roslin Williams was declared President and three Vice-Presidents were elected, namley, Mrs Woolf, Maj. Jenkin and Mr Chapman, each of these being duly proposed and seconded. Mr Woolf was elected Chairman with Mr Locke as Vice-Chairman. Mr Floyd accepted the post of Hon. Treasurer on the proposal of Mr. Hart, seconded by Mrs Jury. Mrs Diane Harris was declared Hon. Secretary, having taken minutes of the meeting; proposed by Mr Hart and seconded by me.
It was decided that an acting committee of fifteen would be practicable and the following were pressed into post with a minimum of coercion;- Mesdames Cooke, B. Cox, M. Cox, Hurst, Jury, Palmer and Partridge and Messers Cartwright, Elce, Jury, Locke, Palmer, Smith and Swan. There was one vacancy.
Miss Harris agreed to liase with the Kennel Club regarding registration of the club and offered to arrange a committee meeting for the near future. In due course, a six page guide to the formation of rules of a registered society was despatched to each member of the officers and committee. Let battle commence!
At the Drum and Monkey
On reflection, the club was quickly off the mark. THe first meeting of the new committee was held on the 12th May 1987 at the Drum and Monkey near Upton on Severn. 'What a good choice of venue.' Someone who shall be nameless, was heard to say. 'Handy for beating is the former, and attended by several of the latter!'
Foremost on the agenda was approval of a form of rules for submitting to the Kennel Club. A club bank account was opened ans annual subscriptions of £2.50 single, £3.00 joint and £1.00 juniors (up to age 16) were agreed. It was decided that one third of the committee should retire annually after the first three years. Actng Officers were elected;- Chairman Mr Woolf, Vice-Chairman Mr Locke, Hon Treasurer Mr Floyd, Hon Secretary Mrs Harris. Committee Mesdames Cook, Cox, Hurst, Jury, Palmer, Partridge and Young Miss Cox, Messers Cartwright, Elce, Jury, Palmer, Smith and Swan.
The provisional rules were formally presented to the members at a special neeting held on the 14th July 1987. However, it was not until 20th September of the following year (1988) that the Kennel Club formally registered the formation of the club. A proviso being that the rules must make clear that 'One third of the Officers and committee retire annually (after an initial three year period) and are eligible for re-election, but Presidents and Vice Presidents shall remain in office 'at their pleasure!' And thus it was.
The First Seminar
The early committee members were eager to publicize the club so, prior to offical recognition, a seminar was held at the 'Drum' where the prime function was declared to be the 'judging of humans!' - the judging of dogs was not allowed at this stage.
The seminar took place on 9th August 1987. Mr Chapman, Vice-President, took the chair and welcomed the distinguished panellists, Mrs Gwen Broadley and Mrs Mary Roslin-Williams.
Some of the subjects raised for discussion in 1987 come as no surprise as I write this some fourteen years on. Here are some brief examples;- 'What coat colours are allowed to be registered?' Labrador coat variations were much in the news. One member, Arthur Kelly possibly, was dismayed at the colours being registered, both in the UK and abroad. F or example, sable, ice-cream, creamy, brindle and 'splashed'! All these were greeted with dismay and a desire to stick to the Standard. A photo of 'Leopard spots' on a puppy was produced. To err is human, to mis-mate is not divine.
'Definitely not a Labrador,' quoth M R-W
Gwen asked. 'What makes a good breeder?'
She replied, 'Use the best lines you can afford and feed the best quality food to the puppies. Then you will get a Labrador.'
M R-W was asked, 'What do we do about so many badly bred and reared puppies that are available?'
M R-W was forthright and true to form. 'They are probably not pure Labradors anyway,' she stated. 'Especially if they are not black. THere are a few good yellow LAbradors - but only a few!' The Chairman noted that by supporting Labrador Rescue, as so many clubs do, the problem was helped a great deal.
A Minimum Height?
The question of a minimum height for Labradors, which was high on the agenda in the USA, was addressed. Some judges abroad were actively measuring the exhibits with a 'ruler'. Both panelists agreed that this was unnecessary. Both were of the opinion that a dog's height should correspond as close to the Breed Standard as possible, but a good dog would show 'balance' overall.
'When are you going to hold a show?' was the next question.
The Hon Secretary explained that we had not heard yet from the K.C of an available show date. Show dept. will let us hear in due course. Several possible venues were being investigated.
The Chairman thanked the 'panel' very warmly and the club presented them with engraved glassware as an appreciation of their wisdom.
An Open Show is planned at a New Country Venue. But will the K.C grant a licence? And will the Croome's tent be large enough to comply with the rules? Watch this space as events take a new twist.......
2000 & 2001