AS I start to type this column its less than 12 hours since the first Pawscars award ceremony came to a close – and what a close it was, the event was a triumph.
But that triumph was not just one for those of us who had organised the event, although we are feeling pretty pleased with ourselves, but going by the feedback we’ve had it has been a triumph for the pedigree dog scene in the UK.
It’s not been an easy few years for pedigree dog breeders and exhibitors on this little island of ours. It’s fair to say the pedigree dog community has felt under siege and there has been a prevailing feeling that the UK Kennel Club never really did enough to rebut some of the more outrageous claims that were made in the TV programme Pedigree Dogs Exposed. More than that there is a significant group of dog people who believe that the KC simply rolled over and they point to the KC’s increasing interest in activities other than conformation dog showing as evidence of this.
But for the Pawscars we did not want to focus on the negatives, it was an opportunity to accentuate the positives and showcase all that was good about the world of ours – and having now been part of it for the last ten years I feel entitled to use the possessive.
So how did it go? Well this is just one email I have received since it ended: “Stuart, Congratulations on organising such a great evening, it was seamless and very enjoyable. We are proud to be associated with such a good cause, organised by such a professional group of people.”
I have to confess to a few moments of concern as we went through the dress rehearsal in the afternoon. The presenters’ script needed to marry up with specific snatches of music and pre-prepared video clips and that didn’t seem to be working. But like all these things by the time we went live it all came together. Of course I should remember that the whole point of a rehearsal is to iron out the glitches. I had a further frustrating few minutes before things got fully underway trying to coordinate photographs of our nominees, with the sponsor of the award and the person who was going to present the Pawscars statuette. But that was the last concern I had all evening.
When our 400 guests sat down ready for dinner my nerves evaporated, well by that stage in the proceedings there is no more you can do, you just have to go with it.
Throughout the evening Gavin Robertson, Dianne Reid and I kept in touch, occasionally going into a little huddle but mainly to pinch ourselves and ask whether it really was going as well as we perceived. Not that it was just us who thought it was going well, very soon the guests and sponsors were coming to us offering their congratulations. On a job well done.
So here is the list of winners, some of the names might not mean much to an international readership but here they are anyway:
Judge of the year was Liz Cartledge
Breeder of the year was won by Drakesleat, Zena Thorn Andrews has won more than 800 CCs and bred well over 100 champions.
Championship show of the year was Windsor, a summer favourite with a showground nestling beneath the royal castle.
Open show of the year was Coventry and Training class of the year was Carlisle
Junior Handler of the year was a talented young man called Will Croxford who we are all sure will make a big name for himself in the future.
Exhibitor of the year was John Averis, a third generation dog man who has shown himself to be very popular in the pedigree dog community.
Steward of the year was Terry Donovan better know as Poloman for the ever-ready packet of mints he always carries, and another very popular win on the night.
Journalist of the year by the narrowest of margins was Steven Seymour, an Australian columnist who writes a monthly column for Dog World and campaigns for a fairer and more democratic attitude from the UK KC.
Breed note writer of the year was Tim Hutchings, who also writes for Dog World, and Photographer of the year was a woman who hails from your side of the pond, Lisa Croft-Elliot.
Trade stand of the year went to Dorwest Herbs, and the award for outstanding achievement went to Dave Killilea.
Winning the award for Unsung Hero was Liz Cartledge for all the work and effort she has put in over very many years to encourage and develop younger generations of pedigree dog enthusiasts and exhibitors.
Well it’s now more than 12 hours since it finished and I’m still on a bit of a high. What next? I think we have no option – the dog showing world is already clamouring for the Pawscars to return in 2015.
AND now to throw myself into the maelstrom that is Crufts. For the next four days virtually the entire Dog World staff, plus freelance contributors and photographers have decamped to Birmingham. Well such an effort befits the world’s greatest dog show!