The following article is taken from the Society’s 2001 Yearbook and added to our website.
It is with great sadness that I have to report the death of The Hon. Mrs Amelia Jessel, one of the doyens of the Flatcoated Retriever Society.
Amelia Jessel was born Amelia Grace Fitzroy on March 26th, 1930, the youngest of five daughters of the future 2nd Viscount Daventry, and the granddaughter of Edward Fitzroy, the Speaker in the House of Commons from 1928 until 1943. She spent her childhood between her parent’s house in London and Rockingham Castle, in Rutland. During the war years, she was educated in Scotland. She began stalking at the age of 11 and shot her first stag at 16.
At the age of 18, she furthered her education by joining Chipperfields Circus where her main duty was to look after a baby hippo called Hilda.
After her marriage to David Jessel, her interest in Flatcoats was born. In 1955, she purchased Asperula from the late Mr Read Flowers. Asperula became a full Champion and was the foundation bitch of the Collyers kennel. Amelia had some notable dogs which consistently won awards in Field Trials. One of these was Collyers Blakeholme Brewster who later became a Champion on the bench as well, and from whom three of today’s Field Trial winners are descended.
The highlight of her Field Trial career must have undoubtedly been making Werrion Redwing of Collyers, a Field Trial champion in 1979 — the only Flatcoat to have gained the title since the Second World War.
Amelia held office within the Flatcoated Retriever Society from 1960 when she became Secretary, a post she occupied until 1982. After this, she was elected Field Trial Secretary and later became Vice Chairman and eventually President in 1994.
A truly dual/purpose lady, Amelia judged the IGL Retriever Championships three times and Crufts twice. She was a member of The Kennel Club and served on their Field Trial Committee. She was also Chairman of the Kennel Club’s Field Trial Liaison Council.
Other posts held were Chairman of the CLA Game Fair Gundog Committee in both 1984 and 1989. She was also on the Committee of the International Gundog League.
Another of her achievements was the Shooting Dog Certificate which she devised in 1981. This was designed to find good working Flatcoat Retrievers to better the future working stock.
She was on the governing body of Guide Dogs for the Blind for several years and of Dogs for the Disabled, and Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.
Amelia was a true country lady who, along with her stalking, was an expert bird watcher and an accomplished yachtswoman. She counted butterflies for the Butterﬂy Conservancy Trust and was a talented painter.
A very entertaining lady, whose knowledge, kindness and sense of humour will be greatly missed by all who knew her. To her family, we offer our sincere condolences.
The above part was written by PETER JOHNSON, FEBRUARY 2001
THE HON MRS AMELIA JESSEL 13 FEBRUARY 2001
On 11 February 2001, I was told that our President, Amelia, had been taken ill on the Isle of Wight and was in St. Mary’s Hospital on the island; she was unconscious, critical but stable — this was the information I was given by the ward nurse. I found myself hoping that we would soon hear better news. Alas, this was not to be for, early on the morning of 13 February, Amelia died. She was born on 26 March 1930.
We had been friends for many years, since the sixties, when I moved south from the Midlands. Amelia took me to Rotherbridge for my first picking up in the South. Amelia was a true ‘Country Lady.’ A perfectionist in everything she did, her dog training was something to watch with admiration. She had a wide knowledge of many things away from the dog scene: music — she had a beautiful singing voice; sailing with her family and friends; her love of wild birds and butterflies (I went on a count once, that was interesting); deer stalking; artist. She loved her garden and was always happy to receive and loved flowers in her home.
I suppose most people will remember her for her field-trialling activities, both as a judge and competitor. She did a little showing and was a judge at both levels. Amelia was the person who brought the Shooting Dog Certificate to fruition, always encouraging people to have a go. I am sure most people connected with Flatcoats will know that she owned our only FTCH, this being the bitch FTCH Werrion Redwing of Collyers bred by Amelia’s daughter Davina and was out of Collyers Juno and the sire was Wizardwood Sandpiper.
Over the years many good strong working Flatcoats carried the Collyers prefix which we may never see again.
On the day of Amelia’s funeral, the sun shone. Her home Bridge Cottage looks out towards the tiny church where her ashes are at rest. It’s just a field that you walkthrough up to the church, past the pond that used to be watercress beds. Amelia turned these into a pond and wetland to attract wildlife. On the day of the funeral, the many snowdrops hung their heads to bid farewell to a very special lady.
The above part was written by PEGGY MILLER, FEBRUARY 2001