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
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.