Harold Laycock

Sadly, I will no longer see Harold's smiling face at Keighley as I have done most Aprils when attending the Yorkshire Championship Show there. He was still showing and winning this past April but died peacefully in his sleep during the recent weekend (18-19/07/15). He had celebrated his 91st birthday the previous January and I did try to persuade him to be a 'victim' of my Spotlight on the Fancier articles but he was too modest and preferred not to participate. A pity as I'm sure he had a few tales to tell. Thankfully, I did do a small pen portrait of him and another Harold (Mitchell) for a Dutch Cavy Club handbook a few years ago so I do know something about Harold and his background.

The Cavy Fancy was certainly in his blood as his father had shown cavies at Crystal Palace in the early part of the 20th Century. As a result, it was fairly predictable that Harold should follow in his father's footsteps and remain a fancier for over 75 years.

He started with Self Blacks in 1937 having purchased his stock from a leading fancier of that time, Alf Foster of Bingley. He had a big reputation and was known in exhibiting circles as The Cavy King. Subsequently, Harold changed to Abyssinians and Dutch and I can remember his stock entered in some of the early London Championship Shows that took place at Ally Pally (Alexandra Palace). The Abyssinian Classes were well supported in those days and in 1971, under judge, Bill Carter he took 3rd place in strong u/5 months classes: T/W (17) another promising boar and A.O.C. (18) roan boar, usual high quality from this stud.

When exactly Harold joined the Dutch Cavy Club, I'm not quite sure but his name and address, 40 Westfield Lane, Idle appears in a News Sheet for 1991. When Margaret Elward and I did a survey of old year books in 2001, we couldn't establish anything for certain concerning Harold's entry into the membership but we did find that D & W Laycock of 378 & 379 Highfield Road, Idle joined in 1965-66 and wondered if these two people were any relation of Harold's. Now it is unlikely that we will ever know.

In more recent years, Harold had a nice T/W Abyssinian sow that won nine firsts on the trot including success at an Abyssinian CC stock show when held at Sandbach. In Red Dutch, he bred a really nice boar that twice took Best in Show at Keighley in the DCC Northern Area Show classes. It probably would have won much more had Harold been able to travel further.

A joiner by trade, Harold had no need to shop around for new hutch blocks. Whenever needed, he could just replace them with his own handiwork. Although Harold suffered a heart attack one Christmas Eve, he seemed remarkably well for his age and he was an inspiration for the rest on us that think we are getting old once we pass the three score years and ten mark in birthdays.