by Patsy Hewan, England
Ch. Stormerbanks Vagabond
It was almost 25 years ago, in October, 1936, that a frightened little six months old bitch, looking more like a fox than anything I had ever seen, arrived at Derby station. I had bought her from a Welsh dealer for 30 shillings, and with her came a dubious pedigree, scribbled in pencil on a scrap of paper torn from a notebook.
Although I knew little about Corgis at that time, I had reason to doubt the authenticity of the pedigree, but on enquiry, another pencilled note stated "A man from the hills brought her down with some poultry and I don't know his name". The man from the hills did not return again, and although a well-known Welsh judge claims to know the breeding of the first Stormerbanks, we were never able to prove anything, so she was registered Stormerbanks Jane, Pedigree Unknown.
There was no doubt that Jane was a Corgi. By today's standards she was a little light of bone and high on the leg, but she was sound and full of quality, with a lovely head. In due course she was mated to Ch. Rozavel Red Dragon and produced an excellent litter, from which I retained a dog, Stormerbanks Draig Goch, and a bitch, Stormerbanks Cymraes Fach.
Draig Goch gave me perhaps my greatest Corgi thrill by winning the puppy class of 19 entries at the 1938 Crufts, and he did some other good winning before he died of distemper* at a little over a year old. Cymraes Fach also won quite well and bred a good litter to Stormerbanks Foxy Fuzz, a handsome son of Int. Ch. Fitzdown Paul. Poor little "Cummie" also went down with distemper with her brother, and died when her puppies were two days old, so we hand reared the litter and retained Stormerbanks Fairy Queen.
*) A vaccine against distemper was first available in the early 1950's.
My second Corgi was Stormerbanks Betsi Fach, a not very beautiful daughter of Ch. Trier of Sealy, bought at five months old for 50 shillings from a sweetshop in Melton Mowbray, soon after the arrival of Jane.
Betsi had a heart of gold, and became my constant companion, serving with me throughout the war and assisting me in my A.T.S. career. As I was attached to Ack Ack, we spent most of our time on Gun Sites, where life was fairly free and easy, and Betsi attended all Church Parades, Camp Inspections, N.A.A.F.I. Dances and E.N.S.A. shows, etc. She had an unfortunate habit of tearing up my knitting or library book if I left her in my hut, so it was easier to allow her to take part in all the activities of the Camp!
Before the war, Betsi was mated to Draig Goch, and produced a dog puppy, Stormerbanks Cocktail, who had a wonderful career during the summer of 1939. He came out at the League Show under Sid Bowler, and won, I think, six first and about four cups, including the Charavigne for the best puppy bred by exhibitor, which incidentally has just come into our possession again, and so prompted the writing of this story.
Larkwhistle Golden Vanity was making all the running in the bitch puppy classes at that time. The Kennel Club had just invented the Junior Warrant, and Vanity and Cocktail were going neck and neck to win the first one for Corgis. Vanity won by a short head, and Cocktail became the first male in the breed to qualify, when he was just under nine months old. I believe he would easily have made a champion, but unfortunately fate decreed otherwise, and it was to be many years before we saw another Championship show.
Since there was very little breeding done during the war, Cocktail was seldom used at stud, and did not leave any outstanding progeny, though some of my stock goes back to him, and so to Betsi and Jane.
On the outbreak of war I was immediately called up, so the kennels had to be quickly dispersed, and we retained only Betsi Fach, Cocktail and Fairy Queen.
When peace was declared I was determined to build up the kennel again as soon as possible, and made a lucky purchase in the form of Churchleigh Ballybentra Cowboy, who was by Int. Ch. Broom of Ballybentra, out of a Teekay bitch. Unhappily, Cowboy died suddenly at an early age, but before this he was mated to Fairy Queen and sired Stormerbanks Cowbelle, our first champion. Shortly afterwards a local bitch visited him, a daughter of Ch. Teekay's Felcourt Supremacy, and I bought in from the litter a bitch puppy who later became Ch. Stormerbanks Dairymaid.
To replace Cowboy, I purchased Stormerbanks Parmel Audacity, and I have to thank him and Dairymaid for our present position in the breed, for nearly all the leading Stormerbanks are line bred to them. Their son Ambrose sired Ch. Stormerbanks Snowfinch, and their daughter Amanda, mated to Ch. Sonec of Rode, produced Stormerbanks Supersonic, who I suppose has been our most successful stud dog.
Mated to an Ambrose daughter, Supersonic sired Ch. Stormerbanks Superfine, who in turn is the dam of Ch. Stormerbanks Indigo. Then mated to Ch. Stormerbanks Aureola (who is by Audacity out of a sister of Dairymaid), he sired Supersabre, the sire of Ch. Stormerbanks Sabreflash, and now we have our eighth champion, Invader, who is a son of Indigo, out of a Sabreflash bitch.
Frequently I am asked the secret of our consistent success in the show ring, and I think I can say without question - line breeding. Those interested in the study of pedigrees can see from the previous paragraph how this has worked or compare the pedigrees of Indigo and Invader.
Ch. Stormerbanks Indigo
Ch. Stormerbanks Invader
If the next 25 years bring as many new friends and happy experiences as the past 25 have done, I shall feel eternally grateful to that Man from the Hills, and the timid little Corgi he brought down for me.
From The Welsh Corgi League Handbook 1961
Patsy Hewan died in October 1986 after 50 years as a breeder. Her kennel prefix Stormerbanks was protected by the Welsh Corgi League for 20 years.