Louise Pearce's Story

Shared by Louise Pearce on April 24, 2019

TRIBUTE TO KATIE ELDRED

1917 – 2019

As everyone already knows the history of Katie Eldred and her Turnworth Cavaliers

dating back to her involvement in England, the U.S. and Canada, I won’t repeat it, but

would like to talk about the Katie Eldred I knew and what she has accomplished in

British Columbia for the love of Cavaliers.

I met Katie approximately 35 years ago. She was one of the first people to bring

Cavaliers to British Columbia. My mother, Olivia Darbyshire moved from Alberta to

British Columbia in 1984 with her Cavaliers and Pekingese. Katie and her became

very good friends as well as friendly rivals in the dog show ring. When I moved to

British Columbia in 1985 with the rest of our dogs my mother sold her house and it was

Katie who found us a home with acreage. From there we travelled to dog shows

together in British Columbia as well as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, U.S.A.

shows. My mother and Katie would sit at ringside and critique all the Cavaliers.

Neither of them was shy about saying exactly what they thought. You learned very

quickly if you didn’t want to hear the truth about your dog then don’t ask for their

opinion.

Katie was very involved in an organization called FIDO which would promote breeds in

malls and exhibition venues as well as people could phone the members and ask

questions about the breeds and where to purchase them. It was formed to educate the

public as well as protect the breeds from Pet Shops and Puppy Mills.

In 1986 Katie and my mother decided to form a British Columbia Cavalier Club. They

worked tirelessly holding functions to raise money and get the very small Cavalier

community to join. In 1988 they sent in the Application for Recognition of a Club to

the Canadian Kennel Club. There were 13 members of which Katie was the President.

February 1st, 1989 The Canadian Kennel Club approved the application. The first

Specialty Show was October 7th, 1992 in which Jane Lilley of West Sussex, England

was the Judge. The entry was 38 which was very surprising, for at that time there

were not many Cavaliers in the area.

On October 8th, 2016 the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of BC held its 25th

Specialty. It was decided for this milestone event that we should honor our founding

members. Katie’s daughter, Sara brought Katie. She was 99-1/2 years old. (See

photo)

Katie Eldred was indeed an ambassador to the Cavalier and will be thought of fondly

for years to come.

Louise Pearce


Geoff's story

Shared by Revett Eldred on April 23, 2019

I have sparse and scattered memories involving Ma (as we called her – solely because she told us decades ago “call me whatever you want except don’t call me ‘Ma’”. So of course being Eldreds ….!)

The earliest I can recall is being in a child seat on the back of her bike (which I remember as being some HUGE cast iron affair!) being ridden up Berrybarn Lane in West Wittering to go to primary school, often finding when I got there that I had forgotten my packed lunch and Ma would have to cycle back for it. I would have been about five.

A later memory is at Woodspeen Lodge near Newbury, she would be taking the dogs for a walk to the village of Speen and would ask if I wanted to come along. Often I would decline, and then sometimes a few minutes after her departure I would secretly ‘track’ her across the countryside, thinking what a clever undercover tracker I was. If ever I lost the trail, a quick stand upright would show me this tall regal woman striding across the countryside with a pack of anywhere between three and six dogs running all around her. Eventually I would get close enough and jump up, yelling “gotcha” and catching her ‘by surprise’. I never did know whether she was taken in by my furtive tracking or whether she knew I was behind her every time I did it.

Another Woodspeen memory is her occasionally suddenly hustling us kids out the front door of the house, ‘shushing’ us and telling us not to make a sound; turns out she had spied the local vicar coming to the back door and she wanted to avoid any discussion with him about attending church or some village fete or whatever, preferring instead for us all to hide in the spinney behind the house. Or the local bobby came to tell her that her donkey and goat had escaped the paddock and were last seen roaming the village of Stockcross and would she please arrange to recapture them – NOW!

And when we later moved to the Isle of Wight Katie had a go at running a Bed & Breakfast in Seaview, but after one season I think she found it way too much work constantly being nice to complete strangers and catering to these humans’ every whim. And of course the inevitable dogs running around the establishment probably did not endear her lodgings to some of the guests! Now, if she had been operating a kennel …..

Sara's story

Shared by Revett Eldred on April 14, 2019

Katie was my mother, and because I was the eldest and only girl in a fatherless household I became her confidante, which caused me to grow up quite fast.  We laughed a lot and had several adventures together.  She epitomized the saying: “Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise”.

Once, we took my pony and trap on a camping trip, to Bradford-on-Avon to visit my Aunty Da, her sister.  Of course we took two dogs too, including a six-week-old puppy that she did not want to leave with the house-sitter. At one point we thought we had lost the puppy and much panic ensued as we searched for her.  With great relief we found she had slipped down behind a pile of belongings that had been covered with a blanket.

Our idea of "camping" left a lot to be desired.  We had our clothes in suitcases (!!) and no tent or any form of protection from the elements.  We drove the pony along the main London-to-Bath road (the A-4 in those pre-freeway days) and were delighted when people honked at us... until we discovered they were trying to tell us that one of our suitcases was sitting in the middle of the road a few hundred yards back.

Of course it rained, and we searched desperately for somewhere to spend the night, eventually ending up in an unoccupied barn.  We set up our camp cots and Katie remarked that it was most convenient because every time during the night that the puppy needed to pee she just set her down beside the bed and then brought her back in to cuddle again.  The surprised farmer found us there the next morning and was most amused and accommodating, giving us chunks of hay for the pony before we moved on.

We reached our destination and after a few days proceeded home again. Stopping in one village, Katie decided we needed ice-cream, and she confused the vendor by buying 5 cones: one for her, one for me, one each for the two adult dogs, and one for Denny, the long-suffering pony!

On another occasion Katie purchased an entire haystack consisting of 150 bales, because she was offered a good deal... if we moved the haystack ourselves.  Our only mode of transport was said pony and trap, so off we went and transported the entire lot back to our stables, 6 bales at a time!

When I left school and had (at her insistence) completed a secretarial course at the local technical college, she allowed me to fulfill my long-held desire to go to France.  She arranged for me to stay for six months in a pension in Saone et Loire, where she figured no-one spoke English and I would learn French or burst.  She was of course quite right.  The pension was inhabited by a selection of well-educated, somewhat stuffy guests, all of whom I thought had one foot in the grave, but I did learn to speak very good French.

However, how we got there was an adventure in itself.  We did not own a car but we had a Lambretta motor scooter.  So Katie sent away to the British Automobile Association (the AA) and they obligingly set out a complete route map for us, keeping us off the main roads. It was exceedingly well thought out, with exact times and mileages, and suggestions for sightseeing along the way. We stayed in charming little B&Bs (sharing a bed in some of them with some less-than-desirable multi-legged creatures…), drinking big mugs of café-au-lait on the sidewalk in the early morning sunshine, with chunks of fresh croissants.  It took us several days and was absolutely glorious. But after she dropped me off, Katie was faced with driving back through France by herself.  She had to cross Paris and at one point, at a large and complicated intersection, she became totally confused.  At last, the white-gloved French gendarme perched in his dais directing traffic blew a long blast on his whistle and held up his hands in all directions. When all the traffic came to a complete stop, he beckoned to Katie and shepherded her alone across the intersection and sent her on her way.

The one aspect of my childhood for which I was then and have always been eternally grateful was that Katie never tied me to her apron strings or over protected me.  She encouraged me always – or at least never prevented me – from going out on my own and doing things.  Ultimately she drove me to Bristol and put me – alone, aged 18 - on a cargo boat to the United States without shedding a tear or saying one thing to try and dissuade me.  She was the most wonderful mother.

Revett's story

Shared by Revett Eldred on April 14, 2019

My early life is a confusing mix of memories of places we lived, never for very long until we settled in Newbury in Berkshire.  I assume the frequent moving was so that Katie could find work, but despite our nomadic existence I never felt lonely or confused as Katie was always there for us.

I do remember living in London at one point and going for walks with Katie and her dog Belinda -- or was it Tallulah? -- ("Pooh").  They played a game: Katie would look fiercely at Pooh, point her furled-up umbrella at the dog, and shout "GO!".  Pooh would look terrified -- somehow managing that while wagging her tail and grinning her dog grin -- and would tear off across the park as if running from the devil.  Then she would trot back and the game would be repeated until both parties had had enough.

We lived in West Wittering near Chichester at one point.  I recall Katie almost fainting when I removed the handkerchief from the cut in my knee and you could clearly see the bone.  But I cannot imagine what she went through when Sara and I had to live in the local hospital's isolation ward for weeks thanks to an outbreak of polio.  We collected slugs, thinking they were snails that had lost their shells, and gave them to our nurses who duly went snail hunting and presented us with 'cured' snails next day.  Katie wasn't the only long-suffering woman in our lives.

Thanks to Newbury Grammar School's Combined Cadet Force, the RAF paid for me to learn to fly with the Oxford Flying Club.  I received my private pilot's licence on the morning of my 16th birthday, to the horror of my instructor who thought it was my 17th.  This mistake made me the youngest person ever to have got a pilot's licence in the UK, a fact that Katie pursued relentlessly with the newspapers until the fact was finally published in London's Evening Standard.  I remember Katie carrying the newspaper clip around with her for weeks afterward and enthusiastically showing it to anybody who would fail to run away fast enough.

One of the proudest moments of my life was many years later after she had retired and Katie was visiting Calgary and went for a tour of my company.  We had a professional but informal atmosphere at work, with high morale.  After the tour Katie said to one of my staff "My gosh, I would have given my left arm to have worked somewhere like this just once in my life."  If only there had been some way we could have accommodated her!

I do recall her first computer.  She was, I think, about 80, and confessed one day that she wouldn't mind being able to use email, whatever it was, and keep in touch with her dog friends.  I said I would give her a computer on condition she came to stay for three days so that I could teach her.  She did, and I did.  When she left, complete with computer and all necessary software, she was very confused, having been bombarded with new information at an age where most people are sitting in a rocking chair watching TV.  Three weeks later I got a phone call. "I can't figure out my IP address because the firewall won't let me see it."  "Who are you," I asked, "And what have you done with my mother?"

She remained an avid email user and forum member until her late 90's.  In fact, for her 90th birthday Sara stole Katie's online address book and emailed everybody there asking if they would like to send Katie birthday greetings.  Almost everybody did.  I put all the greetings into various formats and fonts and created a large, long PDF document.  Geoff and his wife Nora had it printed professionally, 'deckled' the edges to make it look old, and attached it to rods to form a scroll.  It ended up one of Katie's most prized possessions and was truly a combined effort on the part of three very grateful siblings.

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