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Jersey Agility Festival - How did it all begin?

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Finals winners of the first festival in 1997, Alistair Johnson, Valery Johnson and Celia Golding, with judges Ian Stowers and Paul Skinner

Back in 1995 four agility enthusiasts got together and formed Paws Agility Club Jersey. The format for agility training in those days, was only once a week outside and often got cancelled during the winter months due to wet weather. A new indoor horse riding school had just been built at Les Marais, Bel Royal and was a perfect indoor training venue for agility. The four enthusiasts formed Paws Agility Club Jersey, with Katie Bennie as President, Sally Rees as Vice President, Fiona Sangan as Secretary and André Rees as Treasurer. As the club had no funds everyone that joined lent various pieces of equipment to make up a full set. The committee then started a fund raising campaign by running a fun day competition in January 1996, then a jumble sale and also applied for a grant with Sport, Leisure and Recreation which covered half of the cost of a full set of equipment. When enough money had been raised the equipment was ordered and arrived in June 1996, just in time for the first licensed show.

Next February the second licensed show was held, then in June 1997 the ‘Jersey Agility Festival’ was born from an idea by André Rees. The format was very similar to today, attracting Jersey and UK competitors, with qualifying classes over several days, culminating with the finals at the end of the last day. It was the first time in Jersey that an agility show had been run with two rings running at the same time and also was open to all Jersey and UK competitors, with no invitation necessary. Over the first few years it was held at the old Hockey club field behind Jersey Bowl, St. Peter and was held on Friday and Saturday afternoon and evening, then all day Sunday. In 2000 the Festival then moved to Beuvelande Campsite, St. Martin, where the competitors can camp right next to the Festival.

After 4 successful Festivals Sally and André Rees retired from the committee of Paws Agility Club, however the new committee decided not to run the Festival the next year. As the Festival was so popular and so many competitors from the UK still wanted to come over Sally and André decided they would continue to run it, so formed Jersey Agility Club to enable them to run the Festival, with all the proceeds now going to charity, Jersey Hospice. In 2002 electronic timing was introduced to Jersey for the first time (Taryntimers) and also in 2002 the much sought after Teddies were introduced as first prizes. The Festival has proved very popular over the years, being the biggest agility event in Jersey, typically attracting 160 dogs, one year it went up to 182 dogs. In 2007 the first overseas competitor from France came over and this has increased each year since, with even competitors from the Netherlands who compete at the FCI world championships. Also a special mention must be made of Cynthia Brealey, who is the only UK competitor that has been to every Festival since it began in 1997. Each year all the judges were from the UK, with several of the judges having previously judged agility at Crufts. In 2009 for the first time there was also a Jersey judge and a French judge.  Each year there has always been a raffle at the end of the festival, which is always very popular with the first prize always being a return crossing on Condor Ferries for two and a car, kindly donated each year by Channel Islands Direct.

After running another 7 successful Festivals Sally and André decided to have a year off in 2010, and Scallywags Agility Club agreed to hold the reins. After a year off Sally and André Rees gave the Festival in 2011 a makeover, renaming it the ‘Jersey European Agility Festival’, giving it more of a European theme, attracting more competitors from Europe, and also introduced a nations theme each day, with a French day, Spanish day and a British day, with food and drinks from each country on each day. Also a new Nations team event was introduced on Sunday, with the highest placed team from each nation entering a new Final on Monday afternoon, along with the classic individuals finals. Also for the first time there was also an Obedience show alongside the Festival.

A special mention must be made of Tony Griffin who helped with the processing of all the entries and running orders for many years, which is a huge task and also Cindy Heys for all her hard work organising all the sponsorship for many years. Over the last 13 Festivals which were run for charity, £15,642 has been raised for Jersey Hospice. Another special mention must be made of the very generous support and sponsorship over the years from Jersey Tourism, Techni-Cal, Ransoms Garden Centre, Pets Paradise, The Pet Cabin, Nutro and Channel Islands Direct.

Thank you to all the judges over the years:

1997   Ian Stowers, Paul Skinner
1998   Graham Pennington, Bob Griffin, Rosemary Tappin
1999   Gary Woodham, Sally Sanford, Clare Murray
2000   Derek Dragonetti, Jane James, Carol Hughes
2002   Clive Hildersley, Fran Hildersley, Tony Griffin
2003   Tony Griffin, Graham Partridge, Pat Partridge
2004   Rosemary Tappin, Simon Tappin, Tony Griffin
2006   Clive Coleman, Bob Griffin, Jill Spur
2007   Clive Hildersley, Fran Hildersley, Tony Griffin
2008   Bob Griffin, Gary Woodham, Rachel Williams
2009   Roger Bailey (Jersey), Francis Chevalier (France), Clive Hildersley, Graham Partridge, Pat Partridge, Doreen Sizeland, Richard Sizeland
2010   André Erdos (France), Martin Tait, Hazel Tait
2011   Roger Bailey (Jersey), André Erdos (France), Tony Griffin (GB), Alfredo Tuset (Spain)
2012   Roger Bailey (Jersey), Nicolas Renaud (France), Alison Grimes (GB), Maria Luisa Molina (Spain)
2013   Graham Partridge (GB), Pascale Crespel (France), Alfredo Tuset (Spain)
2014   Roger Bailey (Jersey), Nicolas Renaud (France), Andrew Dicker (GB), Alison Grimes (GB), Alfredo Tuset (Spain)
2015   Pascale Crespel (France), Jane James (GB), Jordi Navarro (Spain), Anita Le Masurier (Jersey), Graham Partridge (GB), Pat Partridge (GB)
2016   Alfredo Tuset (Spain), Barrie James (Great Britain), Corinna Körner (Spain), David Powell (France), Jane James (Great Britain), Megan Burns (Guernsey)

Plans are now well under way for the 2017 festival, with the event again being held at the Jersey Accommodation & Activity Centre, St Martin. This is a fantastic venue with indoor accomodation and also camping at the show alongside the rings. Again we will be having nation themed days and meals each night at the venue.

2017 Sponsors:

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Ransoms
   

2017 Supported by:

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Channel Islands Direct