Column 30 July 2011

Peggy Grayson.


Phone calls from friends who went to the World Show in Paris, some with dogs some just to visit, all say the same thing, the stink! Apparently the dogs could and did ‘go’ everywhere no people apparently  there to ‘pick up’ and it was difficult to walk without getting shoes covered in dog mess.  One friend who drove said although the halls were not cleaned the car park was worse, almost impossible to find a clean space to walk.  Surely when staging a show of this size in a country where apparently people are not expected to ‘pick up’ the organisers should have engaged cleaners to work all day?  When I attended the same event in Portugal it was extremely well organised and I was struck by the cleanliness, no dog mess anywhere and the facilities for humans, cleaned all day.  And so it should be.  One friend was struck by the judge who asked each competitor which country they came from, and another who brought a machine to check each dog’s microchip! Surely beyond the call of duty! Ronnie Irving’s succinct piece last week spoke of rings with stewards and no tables and others with tables and no stewards! One person who rang me went one better as in one ring there were neither stewards nor tables available.  On one  of my trips to judge in France I was faced with the same thing when a table and a steward were provided the steward was only sixteen, spoke no English and had never been to a dog show so the poor child had no idea what she had to do.  The language problem surfaced as no one in the office admitted they spoke English! A kind English speaking exhibitor in another group to the one I was engaged for passed his dogs to a relative to show and came and stewarded for me.  I am not sure what would have happened if he had not.

Now this week’s OD has arrived and I have been reading all the stories of those who went and tales of woe keep coming and it has made for a busy time on my phone and a good take on the much hyped event that fell short of everyone’s expectations.  I expect this story will run and run as the weeks rumble on.

I was saddened this week to have news of the death of an old friend Pam Harvey Richards who had been ill for some time. I often meet people at shows who also have a foot in the pony world and we have had Pam as a mutual friend.  She had the Knightwood Stud of New Forest ponies started some sixty odd years ago with a dun stallion called Spitfire whose exploits are well documented and which made hilarious lunchtime tales.  Foaled on the New Forest he was a wild one and no mistake, once captured and put in a pound for collection he cleared the six foot rails in one bound and was loose for another six months.  Pam bought him and they suited one another well and he won a good deal under saddle with Johnny Bradford a well-known horseman, in the saddle.  Pam’s long line of dun New Forest ponies all go back to him.  I had one of his daughters known as Nellie the Elephant, nuff said, my feet still bear the scars!

Pam always had a pack of terriers about the house, started with a little smooth bitch Vicky who lived for 21 years.  Known as Pam’s Jack Russells, puppies went to numerous Forest folk and there must still be descendants about today.  Pam got rather deaf in middle years and her son-in-law gave her an expensive hearing aid like a bean that fits in the ear.  One day she dropped it on the floor and one of the dogs pounced on it and swallowed it.  Although diligently hunted for, it was never found and David refused to get her another one if she was going to ‘feed it to the dogs’!  Pam worked hard for the New Forest Pony and Cattle Society and for many years a committee member and when officer for the designated year meeting H.M. the Queen when she came down to celebrate a New Forest anniversary. Pam was a marvellous fund raiser and could always be relied upon to find a sponsor.  She was the daughter of Mr Harvey a well-known Forest publican and followed him into the trade and when she and her second husband George ran the Green Dragon at Brook it was always full of people with dogs, horses tied up outside, meets of both packs of hounds and get togethers of Forest folk, dog and horsey people, great days.

She was a most kind friend to us and I had many hilarious days with her trying to catch ponies.  Once she landed me with a new born orphan foal and its foster mother a goat! One year I acted as secretary for the New Forest breed show held then in Burley Park and we staged a fancy dress parade of circus characters to raise money for Riding for the Disabled.  It was great to see the committee dressed up as clowns and the chairman Joan Wright as a splendid clown and Angela Harmsworth as a top hatted, whip cracking ringmaster.  A number of ponies were dressed like circus horses and one of Pam’s terriers in appropriate costume perched on the wide rump of a sturdy mare, Pam stole the show.  She was a big lady and to see her dressed as a fairy queen in a tutu and white tights collecting from the laughing ringside with an enamel child’s potty, was quite something.  We raised a goodly sum too.  Pam could have been a writer as she often produced excellent poetry and articles for various Forest publications, but she never had time.  Her daughter Jocelyn and Sarah shared her love of ponies and dogs.  Jocelyn has several generations of Spinone, but is too busy with her catering business to show them and both daughters have New Forest ponies, sad when such a larger than life character departs but they are unlikely ever to be forgotten.

I was also saddened to hear that Mrs Bertha Sullivan of the famous Dandyhow Border Terriers had died aged 93; she had been poorly for some time.  One of the great breeders of our time who did much for the Border Terrier.  Condolences to daughter Kate Irving who has followed in her mother’s footsteps, and to son-in-law Ronnie.