The Origins, History and Progress of the Club

MWSSC members, taken in 1978

It all started in the very early 1960's when a small handful of novice Sheltie owners in Preston who enjoyed the pleasure of owning and showing our breed and wanted to know more. It was decided to have a get-together and invite Mrs Fishpool, who was the only experienced person in the area, to talk to us about improving our knowledge. Information in those days was very hard to come by; no one was too willing to impart their knowledge.

Occasional meetings were held in a small room over a Cafe and as the word got around, other Sheltie novices from further a field came to join us. Of course at this time we were all members of the E.S.S.C. It was then decided to apply to allow us to form a Section. After some discussion it was finally agreed, so we became the very first section of the E.S.S.C. This was advertised in the Dog Press and the first official meeting was arranged. Much to our surprise more than forty people from areas as far a field as Yorkshire and Cheshire attended. This then became the inaugural meeting of the Section.

The following were elected to organize events: Mrs E.M.R. Fishpool (she was at that time the Northern Area Representative of the E.S.S.C.) President. Mr L. Dobson Chairman. Mrs M.M. Dobson Secretary, Mr N. Slater Treasurer, Committee: Mr R.S. McConnell, Mrs M. McConnell, Mrs E. M. Morris, Mr G.B. Taylor, Mr R.G. Fitzsimons, Mr J. McKay, Mrs N. Lee, Mrs N. Miller, Mrs B. Mair, Mr J. W. Warren.

During the next 3 to 4 years a number of successful and informative meetings plus the odd Match Meeting were held. Of course the inevitable happened, the formation of an independent Club was suggested. The time came when the Section was invited to help with the organization of an Open show in Preston for the E.S.S.C. This proved the section could work together under pressure, which gave room for thought and so the decision was made to apply for an independent Club. The Kennel Club was contacted to enquire about procedure. First we required Twenty Founder members each contributing £2.00.

The inaugural meeting was held at the Grosvenor Hotel, Manchester in February 1964 to enable further proceedings to take place. This meeting was Chaired by Mr. Frank Hayward and the notes taken by Mrs Phyl Hayward, Chairman and Secretary respectively of Preston and District Canine Society, who were respected figures of many years standing in the Canine World and did much to help us with sound advice to enable us to get so far with this organization. At this time forty founder members were accepted. Mr Bill Guthrie a member of the K.C. and a well known Sheltie exhibitor and Championship show judge, proposed that the current Section Officials continued in their present Offices to carry out the organizational duties of the proposed new club (as yet unnamed) until the first A.G.M. and to act as the caretaker committee. Also at this time the decision was made to apply to the Kennel Club for registration.

MWSSC members, taken in 1978

Application was made on the 5th March 1964, submitting three proposals for a title, one of which was the Pennine S.S.C. and also the names of the founder members. These were: Mr A. Bryers, Mr & Mrs J. Cooney, Mr & Mrs L. Dobson, Mr & Mrs R.L. Davies, Mr A.R. Davies, Miss N. Dickenson, Mrs B. Eglin, Mrs M. Edmondson, Mr & Mrs R.G. Fitzsimons, Mrs E.M.R. Fishpool, Mr R. Feirley, Mr & Mrs F. Fagan, Mr W.E. Guthrie, Mr & Mrs G. & Miss T. Halstead, Mrs N.G. Higham, Mrs I.M. Jackson, Mrs N. Lee, Mr & Mrs I. Mair, Mr S. I. Meek, Mr C. Melling, Mrs E.M. Morris, Mrs N. Miller, Mrs K. Mercer, Mr & Mrs R.S. McConnell, Mr & Mrs I. McKay, Mr B. Nowell, Mr I.A. Pilcher, Mrs I. Rowbotham, Mrs E. Smith, Mrs P.C. Smith, Mrs V. Streeter, Mr & Mrs G.B. Taylor, Mrs M. Walton, Mr J.W. Warren, Mrs P. Watts, Mr D. Wheater.

On May 28th 1964 word was received from the Kennel Club with a refusal to register, as they put it, to uphold objections of the only two English clubs at that time. These were the E.S.S.C. and the N.C.S.S.C. no reasons were quoted. The third club, the S.S.S.C., apparently did not make any comment.

An appeal was made in June 1964, this was also refused but with a suggestion that we might consider a further application in twelve months time. Over this period of twelve months a considerable amount of lobbying was done with a number of people who we knew would support us. These included personalities such as Walter Bradshaw and Fred Cross strongly supported by Bill Guthrie, all of whom were members of the Kennel Club. On the 14th July, 1965 a further application was made and this proved successful but with the Kennel Club suggestion that the title be:

Mrs E. M. R. Fishpool, MWSSC Founder President, 1965-1981

The Mid Western Shetland Sheepdog Club.

The first official committee meeting was held on the 10th August 1965 to accept the title and to formulate the rules; these were based on rules of Clubs already in existence including our own ideas plus the Kennel Club mandatory rules. These were submitted and accepted on the 20th September, 1965.

THE MID WESTERN SHETLAND SHEEPDOG CLUB, AFTER MUCH LABOUR, WAS BORN.

Work then began with anticipation and apprehension on the organisation of the first open show. This was due to be held in Manchester on the 26th March 1966.

The first Annual General Meeting was held on the 13th March 1966 at the Grosvenor Hotel, Manchester. It was at this meeting the first Officers and Committee of the Club were declared, nominated and balloted upon at a postal vote by members, a practice which has continued to the present day. The first duly elected Officers and Committee were: Mrs E.M.R. Fishpool, President, Mr L. Dobson, Chairman, Mr R.S. McConnell, Vice-Chairman, Mrs M.M. Dobson, Secretary, Mrs E.M. Morris, Treasurer. Committee-Messrs R.G. Fitzsimons, G.B. Taylor, J.A. Pilcher, Mesdames M. McConnell, N. Miller, N. Lee, B. Mair.

The first open show was a huge success with the wonderful entry of 107 exhibits making a total entry of 244. Mrs I.G. Charlton did us the honour of judging. Her principle winners were: Mrs N. Lee S Elanmore Cotton Queen, B.I.S., Mrs Jarvice's Osmart Madelon, Res. B.I.S. The day ended with satisfaction, everything going like clockwork and everyone enjoying the proceedings. The spirit of the Mid Western Shows started here with the support of everyone present.

In 1966 Ron Fitzsimons and Jock Taylor organised and for six years ran a series of very successful and informative meetings, but unfortunately numbers began to decline and the events had to be wound up, they were held at Burton-in-Wirral, the last one being in December 1972. In 1975 due to demand, monthly meetings were started at our venue of Winwick. First of all with Gwen Beaden organising the dog and handler training and "Mum" Mrs Beryl Beaden organising refreshments. As we have continued, persons who had very little or no experience of being in the centre of the ring were chosen to be "willing volunteers" to judge the Match meetings. There were some very nervous people tried it, but some have since become Championship show judges. Unfortunately Gwen resigned from the committee in November 1980, so I'm afraid we lost the services of "Mum" as well. In the following months Mona McConnell took over the training with Bob's help and this continued until Bob resigned in 1998. Mona carried on with the help or Shirley and Ron Davies. Shirley and Ron have now taken over the task of Training at the regular 'First Thursday of the Month' meetings which are still held in the Warrington area. After so many years at the Leisure Centre Winwick, it was quite a shock to be told the owners no longer wanted dogs in the venue. We had quite a problem locating another venue in this area willing to accommodate us and after a couple of years at two other venues we approached the East Warrington Scout Group for help, they willingly agreed we could use their hall and our present venue at The Scout Hall is ideal and not too far from the motorways. The December meeting is also the Christmas party at which the Match Winner of the year is chosen from all the previous twelve months winners and are judged by an independent judge. The Junior members who compete at each meeting in their own special handling event are awarded points and the Junior gaining most points are declared Junior of the year. The success of the meetings is apparent by the fact we have held them since that first one at Winwick in 1975.

Excitement amongst the Club officials reached a high when in early 1967 word from the Kennel Club informed the Secretary that Championship status was granted for the first time. Remember that none of us had any experience of organising and running a show at this level before. Decisions had to be made. First the location of the venue, what date and who to judge. The first two were not difficult. The venue, Cheetham, Manchester, the date, September 14th, 1968, it was after much discussion we decided to choose a judge who had not given Challenge Certificates before. That fell to Bill Henry who drew a wonderful entry of 118 dogs making 268 entries. His principle winners were: Mr & Mrs McAdam's Helengowan Hera of Hardwick, B.I.S. and Mrs Fishpool's Ellington Express, Res. B.I.S. Once again we all enjoyed the fruits of success, not least the committee, with an additional sight of relief. Now the Championship Shows are an event not to be missed.

Since these early days the Club has progressed from strength to strength and over the years has built up a reputation of being a Members Club, as was the original aim. During this progress we have organised activities which have not only been instructive but also social occasions. After all this is a pleasurable hobby and is there to be enjoyed, a fact we should not forget.

Our very first trophy was donated by the very early members and called the Members Trophy, it was given to B.I.S. at the Open shows. Quickly other trophies were donated for the Open and Championship shows and for Annual Points Trophies so it became necessary to appoint a Trophy Steward, that person was lock Taylor, he stayed in that office until he unfortunately died on the 10th October 1973. Other succeeding Trophy Stewards were Jack Coppell, Roni Thompson and John Allen. Our present Trophy Steward, Kathleen Shovelton took office in April 1984. During this time she has shown complete devotion to her task in looking after one hundred and thirty six trophies. Her display at all the shows is a lovely sight of bright shining trophies. Kathleen resigned from the committee in 1999 and in July of that year Shirley Davies was co-opted to the committee to take over the duties of Trophy Steward, a position she still holds and is just as dedicated as the previous stewards.

Mrs Fishpool retired as President in 1981, at this time Les Dobson was elected President and Ron Fitzsimons elected Chairman. Mrs Fishpool became the First Honorary Patron until her death later that year. Mr S.J. Meek was invited to become the Club's second Honorary Patron a position held until he died in August 1990. Mr & Mrs F. Hayward became Honorary Life Members on the 2nd April, 1989, an invitation which was extended in appreciation of their services during the formative years of the Club and since then as scrutineers of Annual Ballots.

MWSSC members, taken in 1982

In 1986 the Club celebrated it's 21st Anniversary with a Buffet and Dance at the Melody Ballroom, Blackpool, an event intended to be a "one off" but this proved so successful, popular demand ensured its continuation for a good number of years.

Saturday October 27th 1990 was the day of the Silver Jubilee Celebration Championship Show. Exhibitors and members received a Special Plate to commemorate the event. Also, to show their appreciation of their work over the lifetime of our Club, the committee, very much against our normal practices, invited Margaret Dobson and Ron Fitzsimons, Secretary and Chairman respectively, to judge the Championship show in this special year, with Mona McConnell as Referee. On the day after the show a celebration Lunch was held to which the Club invited overseas guests and all the founder members who had maintained membership throughout.

In the last few years the amount of activities has increased the work load on the Secretary and the Committee. The Committee meetings have consequently got longer and longer. The 15th July 1987 saw the co-option, as Show Secretary designate of Janet Grice. This position was confirmed at the following A.G.M. and Janet served in this very busy position until 1996 when Colin Waugh took up the reins.

The Training of Judges Scheme started in 1988 in conjunction with the E.S.S.C. and we now work together to make the Scheme a very serious and intensive training ground for all aspiring judges and will, in time, become a must. The first organiser and coordinator for the Mid Western was Gwen Beaden who approached her task with complete conscientiousness. Gwen retired from the committee in February 1993 and the position of coordinator passed to Ray Grice. Ray resigned from this position in April 2000, Keith Mottram taking his place.

MWSSC members, taken in 1990

In September 1992, to ease the workload on the Secretary, the office of Secretary/Treasurer was separated. Ian Crawford was appointed Acting Treasurer and he was confirmed Treasurer when elected at the AGM in 1993, a position held to this day.

1995 saw the 30th anniversary of the Club and this was celebrated with a dinner dance and at the Championship show all exhibitors were given a commemorative ring clip.

In 1997 the club experienced what was probably the one most significant change in its committee since it was formed. Our founder Secretary, Margaret Dobson, retired from the position after 32 years in office. After such a time it is obvious that Margaret's name should be synonymous with the Mid Western Club and thankfully she agreed to remain with the committee in the position of Assistant Secretary; a factor which was a great help in easing our new Secretary, Chris Mayhew, into the post.

1998 saw the loss of another long standing committee member in Bob McConnell who retired from the Vice-Chairman's position which, along with his Judges Training Scheme duties, was taken up by Ray Grice. In recognition of his service to the Club, Bob McConnell was elected as Honorary Vice-President at the AGM. On December 31st 1997, the Club lost its 2nd President when Les Dobson died. Margaret Dobson was elected President in April 1999. In September, in conjunction with an Open Show, the Club held the Sheltie of the Year Competitions.

After 18 years as Chairman, Ron Fitzsimons resigned in April 1999 but stayed on as a committee member so his experience was not lost to the Club. Ray Grice was elected Chairman and Jean Fitzsimons who joined the Committee in 1980 was elected Vice-Chairman. December 1999 saw Chris Mayhew resign from the Secretary's position, Margaret Dobson taking over as Acting Secretary until the A.G.M. in April 2000 where she was elected Secretary once again.

The office of Assistant Secretary was held by Joanne Mayhew from the 2001 AGM until her resignation in 2004. This position is now vacant. 2001 was another milestone year as Ron Fitzsimons, committee member and past Chairman died in September of that year.

In 2005 the Club celebrated its Fortieth Anniversary and at the Championship Show in October, all members who exhibited at that show were invited to a Buffet Lunch with Cake and Wine later in the afternoon - very much appreciated by all. The Committee were so pleased to receive compliments and thanks for their efforts.

2007 and once again the Club was host to the Sheltie of the Year competitions held in conjunction with an Open Show.

2008 and again the loss of a Founder member, Bob McConnell who was the Founder Vice-Chairman and subsequently Hon Vice-President, died in February.

Up to this time Colin and Margaret Waugh, who joined the committee in 1993 are still very much in charge of our Rescue along with Margaret Dobson.

Keith Mottram resigned from the position of co-ordinator of the Training of Judges Scheme in June 2008. It was agreed by the committee the scheme had run its course and the Chairman recommended the Club should withdraw from the Joint ESSC/MWSSC Scheme. The Club implemented its own Training Scheme in 2010

The Website was launched in October 2008.

Dean Grice was commissioned by the Club to produce and set up the pages and previously gave a presentation to the committee. Ray Grice would take the position of Webmaster.

2009 saw the production of The Illustrated Breed Standard compiled and edited by Jean Fitzsimons and Margaret Dobson. Subsequently since the standard was printed it has been ordered and sent to Sheltie owners in numerous countries.

In March 2012, Vice-Chairman Jean Fitzsimons suffered a serious illness which severely restricted her activities and subsequently Jean sent her resignation from the position. Keith Mottram was elected acting Vice-Chairman by the committee to serve until the next AGM.

The Club celebrated Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a  Red, White and Blue dressed committee and show at what was to be our last show at the Woodford venue.

MWSSC members, taken in 2015

At the Annual General Meeting in April 2013 Jean Fitzsimons was elected as Honorary Patron and Honorary Life Member for her services to the Club

Keith Mottram was elected to the position of Vice-Chairman.

July 2013 saw the resignation of Chairman Ray Grice, Ray has been, during his years of office a very hard working member first as a committee member, co-ordinator of the Training of Judges Scheme, then Vice-Chairman – subsequently Chairman for which the Club owes him a great deal of thanks. Ray is still the webmaster.

Subsequently in August Vice-Chairman Keith Mottram took the position of Acting Chairman and Ian Crawford Acting Vice-Chairman to serve until the next AGM.

September 2013 and another sad loss to the committee, Mona McConnell died after a short illness. Along with her late Husband Bob, Mona was a Founder Committee Member and both were dedicated to the Mid Western Club, she will be greatly missed.

December 2013 saw another milestone, from the mid 1970’s meetings were held every month in the Warrington area with an attendance of between 70 – 80 Sheltie breeders/owners so it was with sadness that the December 2014 meeting was the last one held. Due to a gradual decline of Sheltie breeders and owners in the area attendance was down, apart from committee members the average attendance was around six.

At the Annual General Meeting in April 2014 Shirley Davies stepped down from the position of Trophy Steward, Shirley remains on the committee with Dilys Jackson now taking over the responsibility.

At the June committee meeting Joan Chater was co-opted to the committee.

2015 and another milestone, Margaret Dobson Founder Secretary retired after almost 50 years in the position, Margaret remains on the committee as President.

Joan Chater proposed by the committee, was elected Secretary at the Annual General Meeting. At this meeting to thank them for services to the Club over many years, Founder Members Shirley and Ron Davies were elected Honorary Life Members.

We now look forward to celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Mid Western Shetland Sheepdog Club at the Open show on July 18th 2015.

So the history of the club will continue.