Over 25 years ago I bought my first Setter, he was an Irish Setter and I had great hopes for him, unfortunately I was a complete novice at that time and it transpired he was born in a puppy farm in Wales and sold to a pet shop in London, which is where I bought him from. He ended up having a heart murmer and was a monorchid, but it didn't matter, I loved him to bits regardless, my Jasper, probably the naughtiest dog in the world for running off after other dogs, invading football pitches and cricket matches, usually whilst I was in the surrounding woods still looking for him after our walk. But his beauty and temperament was so very special.
When I lost him at the age of 10 years I already knew that I wanted another Setter but didn't have the heart to buy another Irish Setter, so I bought an English Setter, his name was Harvey and he was my first show dog, my introduction to the wonderful breed and what got me hooked on them and the show scene....the rest is history.
I started with Harvey (Hannahdene Golden Prince of Tawnymeade), then added Miles, (Hannahdene Rockafella At Tawnymeade), a stunning dark tricolour who tragically died at just 2 years of age, but not before he had done a lot of winning for me in the show ring, the first dog I qualified for Crufts, I was on cloud 9 to have achieved that. Georgia, (Hannahdene Forever In Love At Tawnymeade), had been returned to her breeder at around the same time so she also came to live with us. Sadly Harvey and Georgia both went to the bridge at just over 10 years of age.
When I lost Miles I was desperate for another dog to show, both Harvey and Georgia were too old at that point. I managed to locate a 7 month old orange belton pup that had been run on by his breeder. I went to see him and fell in love with him, he joined us the following week, he was Bailey (Downend William Of Orange At Tawnymeade). He did exceptionally well in the show ring, qualifying for Crufts many times and winning Best of Breed week after week at open show level.
When I relocated from Essex to Lincolnshire in 1998 I had just 3 English Setters - Harvey, Georgia and Bailey, within a few years I also had Tyler (Hannahdene Calypso With Tawnymeade) and Remy (Denbysett Midnight Hour Of Tawnymeade). Both Tyler and Remy did well in the show ring but Tyler was retired as a junior as he simply refused to carry enough weight for my liking, Remy continued to show for a couple of years but then made way for some more youngsters. They didn't mind at all, it just meant they got to stay at home and laze around whilst we set off at the crack of dawn to reach the various show venues.
Then I moved to a lovely little bungalow with no near neighbours so finally had the opportunity to really branch out. I bought another Irish Setter, more than 10 years after I had lost Jasper, I was finally ready for another. Rory (Bonahaird Levade Del Tawnymeade) joined us, closely followed by Leon (Valsett Starlite Heritage Of Tawnymeade), another English Setter. I then had Rory's two sons, Barney and Alfie (Tawnymeade Tocatta and Tawnymeade Traviata), and another beautiful english setter Amber, (Settaside Snojoke With Tawnymeade).
By this time Leon had been used at stud and I had the striking dark tricolour Fabian (Settaside Spirito Di Tawnymeade) join us, he was so very similar in markings to the late Miles. He was closely followed by another English Setter, Gracie (Lucy Lou). Some time later, Fabians litter sister Leonie became available so she joined us too. Fabian was shown with considerable success but Gracie and Leonie much preferred to stay indoors on the sofa! We also had Bridie, (Landscott Lady Gwendaline) with us for a while, a beautiful Irish Setter that I owned in partnership with Fabians breeder, whom she later went to live with.
Whilst the others lounged around at home, Rory, Leon and Barney kept the Tawnymeade flag flying for us in the showring.
Gracie was to be my foundation bitch, eventually mated to Leon in 2005 she produced Gideon and Ebony (Tawnymeade Twist N Shout and Tawnymeade Temptation). Ebony was only shown a couple of times as I was doing very well with Giddy and continued to concentrate on him.
Fabian was then mated to Bramble (Settaside Snowcapped), litter sister to Amber, in 2006 and I retained Bradley (Tawnymeade Time Bandit) from this litter. About 6 months after they were born I was starting to find it increasingly difficult to get to the shows and Bradley was only shown once, to his credit he did receive a placing at the English Setter Association Championship Show in the minor puppy class.
I also had the pleasure of owning, for a short time, two beautiful Pointer bitches, Lacey, a Black & White, who had been returned to her breeder when my relationship broke up, but sadly went to the bridge August 2008, and Tawny, Lemon & White, who now lives locally with Fabian and Gracie.
Unfortunately, illness robbed me of the opportunity to keep all of my beautiful dogs with me and all but one have found wonderful homes with people that are experienced in English Setters, and all who are able to be at home with them all or most of the day. In 2008 I left Lincolnshire to be with my partner so that he could look after Leon and I during my illness and operations. From 2008 until May 2014 I have been in and out of hospital and had numerous operations, I would never have been able to care for my babies so know that, as sad as it was and still is, I made the right decision in placing them in their new homes. Fingers crossed this last operation was the final one and I can now enjoy getting back to full health again.
So there you have it...of these beautiful creatures that have blessed my life I am sad to say that we have lost Jasper followed by Miles, then Harvey, closely followed by Georgia. Then the beautiful Rory went to the bridge too. 2009 was a sad year for losses, our darling Tyler was given sleep in September followed by our darling Remy just 2 weeks later. I was told by his breeder that I will never be informed when Bailey goes to the bridge but as he would be 13 this April I feel he may have already joined his brothers and sisters. Sadly, Gracie went to the Bridge in May 2010 followed by Leon in June 2010, a very sad 10 months indeed.
During July 2010 we were delighted to welcome Henry, (Bournehouse Midnight Quest), into our lives. He has helped us during a very sad time and we thank Penny Williams for allowing him to join us.
Here is a stunning portrait that my dear friend Pat Elliott painted and gave me in memory of Remy.
On 4th September 2010 Clive and I got married, the reception was held at the house, we had planned it this way so that Leon was included in all the celebrations but, sadly, it was not to be. However, our new boy Henry arrived in time to share the big day with us and was a great hit with all the guests.
We relocated to Lincolnshire in August 2012, we have a delightful little smallholding in the country, no neighbours and a short drive from the coast. Since moving we have added two little tabby cats and another 3 English Setters to our family.
Please take a look at my boys and girls, there are photos and pedigrees for each.