The West Highland has had its fanciers in Northern Ireland for a number of years, although Belfast, who have offered CCs for the breed since 1948 was the only show of this status in the area. For many years a few enthusiasts have been individually guaranteeing and supporting classes at the local shows, and thanks to the efforts of these breeders, the West Highland gained a steady popularity and the Club was formed.
The inaugural meeting of the North of Ireland West Highland White Terrier Club was held on 6th July 1959, at the home of Mr and Mrs Bell. Those present included Messrs. Breasley, Bell, Edwards, Smith, Wadworth, Roberts, R Reilly, Holmes, Chambers, Spratt and Miss E Auld. These plus several other persons who had already signified their intention of being “Foundation Members” made up the 25 members required by the Kennel Club to form a Club.
A proposal was put forward that a Club be formed with the title “The North of Ireland West Highland White Terrier Club” for the furtherance of the breed generally in Northern Ireland, to promote and exhibit at shows, to get the best possible conditions etc for the “fancy”. Entrance fee for membership was set at £1 and 52 ½ pence per annum. An application to register the title, sponsored by the “senior” W.H.W.T. Club was placed before the Kennel Club on 19th January 1960 and membership was duly granted.
The first Chairman elected was Mr T G Edwards (Annville) and the office of Secretary went to Mr John Bell (Carryduff). It was proposed that the names of Mrs G A M Persse and Mrs E M Garnett (of the Roe) be recorded as Vice Presidents of the Club in recognition of their long association and work for the breed and Sir Joseph Crawford McCullagh, 2nd Baronet of Lismara, expressed his readiness to be President.
The records of the Club show a very active interest in the breed. For the first few years the Club guaranteed Breed Classes at several Open Shows, offered trophies on a point system, and organised match meetings and other social get-togethers.
At a meeting on 1st June 1968 the Secretary was instructed to write to the Kennel Club regarding holding a Championship Show in Northern Ireland. By November they had received the go ahead, and plans were put in motion for the event to take place on 15th March at the Queens Hall, Belfast.
The elected Judge, Miss Sheila Cleland (Birkfell) drew an entry of 95 made up from 59 dogs. Dog CC and BOB was won by Heath of Backmuir owned by Mr & Mrs Gellan, Bitch CC was Mr John Wilson & Miss Fisher’s Lindenhall Donna. Best Puppy was Millburn Melody owned by Mr N Herbison, and the Best Irish Bred Dog or Bitch was Chalk White owned by Mr & Mrs Lowry. The show was reported as a success, and the Secretary Ivor Bradley (Bradmoss) his wife Freda and the Committee were congratulated on the results of their efforts.
From this time the Club has not had the easiest passage. It was most unfortunate that the second Championship Show was laboured under the difficulties that resulted from the Rabies restriction which excluded a number of entries crossing the Irish Sea. In 1971 there was growing publicity given to the disturbance in Northern Ireland and inevitably a number of exhibitors had reservations regarding the trip across the Irish Sea. This not unexpectedly drastically reduced the entry to 37 dogs, however, Mrs Bonas must have been delighted that her 10 month bitch Tasman Adoration went through to Best in Show.
Four months later the Club was hosting the second of the “Combined” Championship Shows which was held in Keighley. Mrs J Beer (Whitebriar) attracted an entry of 184 from 118 dogs for her first engagement in the North of England. Mrs Coy’s Cedarfell Merry “N” Bright was awarded Best in Show. Gifts of Irish Linen presented to the Judge and principal winners were much admired.
By December, owing to the continued unrest in the area, it was agreed to postpone the 1972 show. After much discussion it was proposed to hold the next event at Stranraer, as a result an entry of 137 made by 81 dogs was received. Judge Mr Bertram (Highstile) reported the “Irish contingent brought over a surprisingly strong team, and when the Best of Breed (Lucky of Loughore) was chosen it was obvious from the ovation that he would be going home on the boat!”
For five years the shows continued to be held in Stranraer, but even though unsettled conditions existed, in 1978 they returned to their “native heathland”. The Club was duly congratulated on the entry of 84 from 52 dogs, and the party who sailed the sea were extremely appreciative of the members for the kindness in meeting the boat and transporting them to and from the show.
Since this time the shows have taken place on both sides of the water, and in spite of all the troubles endured, the enthusiasm has prevailed.
Now thirty-five years after the formation, the Club is thriving thanks to the unflagging efforts of the Officers and Committee who have guided it along the way. The one dark shadow cast at this time is the passing of the President Mr Jimmy Lowry (Tervin) on September 11th this year. His membership commenced in 1969 and he joined the Committee a couple of years later, a position he held until he was elected President in 1990. Many served their apprenticeship under his guidance, and he will be greatly missed in the West Highland World.
Finally congratulations to the North of Ireland West Highland White Terrier Club on the occasion of their Silver Jubilee Championship Show, and sincere good wishes for future successful years to come.
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