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President - Eric Somerfield, Chairperson - Philip James BA(Hons), Hon Secretary - Diane James BEd(Hons), Hon Treasurer - Dennis Oakes HNC
Rene Somerfield, Angela James, Helen James BEd(Hons), James O'Brien Bsc (Hons), Aimee O'Brien and Jacob O'Brien.
Hon. Life Member: Ray Guest
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A BRIEF HISTORY OF DERBYSHIRE GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG CLUB
COMPILED JUNE 2009 BY ERIC AND RENE SOMERFIELD (RENERIC)
Derbyshire GSD Club was formed in 1982 by three former members of Sheffield German Shepherd Dog Society, namely Ray Thorpe (Rathcondel), Ray Guest (Albreda) and Eric Somerfield (Reneric). We held a well attended inaugural meeting at which Ray Thorpe was norminated Secretary, Ray Guest Treasure and Eric Somerfield Chairperson. These Officials, together with a hardworking committee, became the basis for the successful club we enjoyed some 27 years later. The Club began holding regular weekly training nights with qualified obedience instructors taking classes of 20 - 30 dogs each week and holding regular progress nights. Members wanting to show their dogs in breed classes were instructed in ring etiquette by experienced judges with help from experience handlers. Socialising for puppies as soon as they had cleared their injections was also an important part of the evening with everyone joining in to fuss and praise the young ones. Refreshments were provided and the weekly meetings turned into party nights with often 50 plus dogs attending. Christmas parties were a highlight with Father Christmas handing out presents for all the children and the dogs. The Club also organised events during the year so has a talk given by a local vet, visits from Police Dog handlers explaining their duties and training, and question and answer evenings with local experienced breeders and judges.
As the Club grew everyone became more enthusiastic and wanted to hold match nights with other clubs but to do this we had to be registered with the Kennel Club to become an official club. Our first application was refused, but the second in 1984 was successful and the Club began holding Match Nights every month and competing every year in a popular Supermatch against dog clubs of all breeds, usually under a foreign judge. Open shows were held twice a year at Queens Park in Chesterfield, a venue we used for several years, and we were among the first clubs in the country to introduce junior handling classes. We were quiet flattered to be approached by secretaries of breed clubs other than GSDs for information and advice on how to stage this classes. Our open shows quickly became famous for the catering, with baking and sandwiches provided by the hard working ladies of the Committee, but the star attraction was the excellent meat pies baked on the morning of the show and delivered by John and Paul Dobby (Tessgerin) from their bakery near Barnsley.
By 1986 we were one of the most successful breed clubs in the country with a membership of close to 100 and AGMs regularly attended by 60+ members. The Committee decided to apply to the KC to hold a Championship Shows and 1988 saw our first show at Newark & Notts Showground, drawing an entry of 303. These were judged by the well-known professional handler Marjorie Williams (dogs) and John Carter (bitches). A highlight of the show was the Parade of the Champions, with 18 proud dogs and bitches filling the ring. This Parade is still an important and much enjoyed part of our shows today. It was a nervous time for us all but thanks again to the handworking Committee (and the pies) we had an excellent day, followed by further successes in 1990, 1992 and 1994 with entries of 249, 180 and 211 respectively. Then in 1996 we had a huge disappointment - the KC were looking to reduce the number of CCs for all breeds and GSDs had several casualties, we were one. In spite of the fact that we had excellent reports from Field Officers who had inspected our shows and lobbying the KC with over 50 letters from satisfield exhibitors our Championship Show was refused. The Club continued to campaign and twelve months later - due to the persistence of Rene Somerfield - the KC relented and we continue to run enjoyed shows to the present time.
The previous paragraphs are all about the Club's achievements in general, so now seem the right time to praise the efforts and achievements of some of the individuals who brought their knowledge of the breed and special talents to benefit other members. Principally the founder members - the late Ray Thorpe, first Secretary, Ray Guest, first Treasurer still a regular visitor to all our show, Eric Somerfield, Chairman since 1982 and in 2009 honoured to become the President. Several long-standing members progressed to become Championship Show judges - Rene Somerfield, Secretary and Treasurer for 23 years; Pat Roe (Parawhite), Secretary for 13 years; Stuart Morton (Linsdown), Treasurer for 3 years; Joan Carr (Jondrew), who for many years has acted so ably as Chief Steward at all our Club's shows; Ann and Mel Hardy (Amhard); Bob Kinsey (Belvitroy). Three members have achieved the honour of being invited by the Kennel Club to judge the breed at Crufts, namely Eric Somerfield (1999), Tony Stanbra (2009), Bob Kinsey (2010). Also Tony was an active Committee member for many years, helping with ringcraft and handling techniques at weekly meetings. The ladies of the Committee must also be mentioned, no Club can run without them behind the scenes: the late Connie Thorpe, Betty Guest, Janet Ambler, Chris Whileman and Sue Stanbra (who was also Treasurer for 4 years). Over recent times the Club's activities are being ably maintained by Philip and Diane James (Phenaid) and Dennis Oakes (Rydeneiche). Apologies if anyone has been omitted, but they were all greatly appreciated.
On a personal note, this was meant to be a brief history of a Club that has been an important part of our lives for so many years and it is difficult to cram all the happy memories into a few paragraphs. Rene and I will be remaining on the Committee to help and give advice (if needed) and we know the new Officials will receive the support we have always had. We all look forward to welcoming you to our future events.