Published in Our Dogs on 15 January 2021

Colour portrait

I received the sad news that I’d been dreading, that Yvonne died on Sunday, 13 December 2020; she was 96 years old. It has taken a little while for me to be able to properly compose my thoughts to write this, and I do so as her funeral is taking place today, 6 January, at Chilterns Crematorium, Amersham.

A well-known exhibitor, breeder and judge of Irish Setters and Gordon Setters, she was also deeply involved with Uxbridge Canine Society for many years. A quietly determined lady who devoted herself to her family, dogs and canine activities, she had a nomadic childhood that included a period in India, a lifestyle so typical of the daughter of an RAF family. After the war her family returned to their native Lancashire, where she married Eddie. In 1946 Yvonne and Eddie moved to London, settled to family life and had two children, Carole and Derek; the Carek affix is derived from their names.

Initially Yvonne bred Toy Poodles, then an Irish Setter was purchased as a present for their young son. In the early ‘70s, Eddie decided on a change of career – he was an engineer – and they turned to something Yvonne had always wanted to do, to have boarding kennels. Green Meadows in Chalfont St. Giles became their home, and I’m sure many will remember attending gatherings held there over many years. Get togethers ranged from committee meetings, summer rallies and barbecues complete with obstacle courses, plus many other canine-related fund-raising or social affairs.

Yvonne’s interest in Irish Setters increased, but she was distraught when early onset PRA or night-blindness was produced by Carek Diabolo. Always interested in canine health matters – she served for many years on the ISBC health sub-committee – together with a small group of other dedicated breeders she set about undertaking test matings, as at that time, the 1970s, DNA tests were a thing of the future. She went on to breed a show champion, Carek Red Fashion (whelped 1975) and his litter brother, Carek Nice Fella, who won two CCs and six RCCs before he died from cancer at the age of five.

It was during the early ‘70s that Yvonne expanded her setter interest to Gordons; she had admired a young bitch, Cuprea Penny Black, who was causing a sensation as she won two CCs while a puppy, going on to accumulate eleven CCs before her untimely death aged just three. Yvonne purchased a puppy from Penny Black’s only litter, Cuprea Black Velvet (whelped 1972) and Velvet became the foundation of a hugely successful line. Numerous titleholders, including the previous breed record holder, Sh Ch Carek Bronze Clansman, bear the Carek affix; so many outstanding breeding lines come down from Carek breeding, far too many to be able to list here.

Eventually Eddie had a hankering to retire and return north, and as Derek was willing to take over the reins of managing Green Meadows, they moved back to Burnley. Yvonne’s love of entertaining and looking after us all remained strong, so committee meetings were hosted in her home there, where she provided lunch for everyone. In 2002 Yvonne had a frightening accident while on holiday in Portugal, so her breeding activities had to be curtailed. At the beginning of 2009 we learned of occurrences of a late onset form of PRA in Gordon Setters. Yvonne immediately took the initiative and set about sending reports to geneticists and giving as much help, support and advice as she could.

Eddie’s health was in decline and it necessitated a move back down south to a bungalow not far from Green Meadows, so Derek would be able to help when necessary. After Eddie’s death in 2007 Yvonne remained in the bungalow with two Irish Setters as her companions, walking them in the woods every day. Her own health gradually deteriorated; she moved back to Green Meadows for a spell, but eventually had to be cared for in a nursing home. Sadly her son Derek died in January 2020.

Yvonne served on many canine committees: she was the treasurer of Uxbridge Canine Society for about ten years then served as its vice-chairman; a committee member of the Irish Setter Breeders Club from as early as 1977; vice-president of the South of England Irish Setter Club; and she was especially devoted to the Gordon Setter Association where she was a long-standing committee member and wore almost every hat available, she was elected as president from 1990–1994 and 2002–2003, then she was appointed honorary president. An international judge, she awarded CCs in Gordons and Irish Setters, judging Irish Setter males at Crufts in 1988 and both sexes of Gordons in 2001.

She will be very sadly missed. RIP Yvonne, my mentor and dear friend.