The Border Union Agricultural Society held its first Championship Dog Show in August 1975 and has held a Championship Dog Show every year since, apart from 2001 when the decision was taken to cancel the show due to a major outbreak of foot and mouth disease.
The founding Committee comprised, Chairman Mrs Margaret Lyndesay-Smith, the widow of the Rev D Lyndesay-Smith who was at one time the Vice Convenor of the Scottish Kennel Club, Secretary Miss Jean Cook, a very accomplished breeder and exhibitor of Dachshunds, Assistant Secretary Mrs Lynn Clayton, Chief Steward Mr Ronnie Irving, a well-known breeder and exhibitor of Border Terriers who later became the Chairman of the Kennel Club, Assistant Chief Steward Mr Jimmy Briggs, the long-time Secretary of the Lothian Canine Club, Show Manager Mr Jimmy Macgregor, Assistant Show Manager Mr Joe Macaulay, another well-known exhibitor in Dachshunds, together with Mr Tony Clayton, Tom and Vera Strathie and David Grant.
The Chief Steward and Show Manager decided that part of the planning for the first show would be to look at the aspects of other Championship Shows of the day that they didn’t like and to plan ways of eliminating them. This led to the current system of exhibitor parking behind the benching tents and also to the benching areas and the rings being as close as possible to each other, not something that was universally done at all Championship Show in those days!
By dint of some outstanding work done by the original committee, in particular Ronnie Irving, whose organisational skills and financial acumen were put to good use in setting up a management structure, and Miss Jean Cook, the Secretary, who had to organise judges for the show in a time span that modern day secretaries would find horrendous, the first show went ahead on time! The Kennel Club were very helpful and waived the requirement for the dog show to be held in conjunction with the Agricultural Show. In the matter of judges the Kennel Club again proved very helpful, and Border Union’s first Championship Show had such names as George Leatt, Percy Whittaker, Dr Ben Raven, and Gwen Broadley judging. Mr Fred Dempster judged BIS and awarded it to Havenhand’s Lakeland Terrier, Ch Cripsey Ferndale Forger, handled by Mr Frank Kellett.
The modern day Border Union Championship Dog Show is held over two days, with the Gundogs, Hounds and Terriers on one day and the Working, Pastoral, Utility and Toys on the other. Entries are normally between 5000 and 6000 dogs, with classes for 116 different breeds scheduled over the two days. There are also variety classes for breeds that aren’t scheduled individually, and each day there are competitions to determine the dog or bitch awarded Best in Group. These dogs then compete for Best in Show on the Sunday, and there is a similar competition for the Best Puppy in Show, also judged on the Sunday. These competitions are the final act of the show for exhibitors and public, although there are many more actions to be taken by the show team.
Border Union prides itself on being exhibitor friendly, with car parking for exhibitors at the rear of the benching tents, disabled parking at the front of the car parks and a well laid out, compact show setup with the rings surrounded by trade stands and wet weather rings within the benching tents if required. We encourage exhibitors to come with a caravan/motorhome for the week leading up to the show as there are many attractions to see in the Borders. Kelso has all the major amenities needed, including supermarkets, swimming pool, petrol stations, banks, chemists, pubs, restaurants, vets and a medical centre. On both days there are a number of food outlets serving a range of food and drinks.
For more information please contact the Championship Dog Show Secretary (Brian Stevenson) on 01573 223843.