Meet the Committee

John Rolfe, Chairman


 I rescued my first Water Spaniel nearly 40 years ago. She was from an old working line and although not the healthiest specimen  became a much valued companion when rough shooting.

I was born on a large shooting estate and spent most of my childhood helping a beat keeper rearing in the Spring and 'beating' in the Winter so I suppose its not surprising that eventually I became  a fulltime gamekeeper. From my first Water Spaniel to the present day we have had an unbroken succession of 'Whiptails'. I think its true to say I am passionate about this wonderful breed.  I was a founder member of the SIWSC and became Chairman in 1992. I care deeply about the future of the IWS as a working gundog and am resolved to promote the breeding of healthy dogs 'fit for purpose'.

Melvyn Hurst, Secretary


 I have been in the breed for 25 years, and have been active in promoting the IWS, including Gamefair Demonstration and the Sporting Dog Pavilion, Gundog Working Tests, Field Trials and picking up on shoots.

I have previously served as a Committee Member from 2000 during which time the club was being regenerated and actively seeking K.C. recognition, which was granted.

Both my wife and myself are also interested in the health and breeding of the Irish Water Spaniel.

Shane Honey, Treasurer


 I have owned water spaniels for 10 years, my first being Merlin, a dog pup from a Kirkmarsh litter.  A few years later I collected my "littleDutch girl" Teagan from Hans and, the late (sadly), Mary Knopport in Holland.

I bred a litter in November 2016 keeping a bitch myself in order to start my own "Gullytown" strain which I hope may help the gene pool and be of some benefit to the breed in the future. I have always tried to work my dogs but found it difficult to find a regular place on a local shoot but have now been lucky and found a sympathetic Gamekeeper.

I really enjoyed our first full season (2018/19), using both Teagan and her daughter, Enya (Gullytown Will 'o the Wisp).

There was nearly always someone who asked "what type of dog is that?", giving me the chance to promote the breed and let people know how rare they have become. I have also been fortunate enough to find a supportive trainer in my area and am looking forward to learning more and improving my technique for the coming season.  I really enjoy attending IWS training weekends as its a lovely, informal way to meet other owners, share experiences and information, as well as make new friends and have some fun with our dogs!

Jackie Hill - Newsletter & trophies


 I've been involved with the breed since 2011 when we got our first IWS, Fendrake Isla (Isla), from David & Ursula Wilcox.  We now have six, all of whom I adore.  Our dogs are worked regularly in the shooting season and they draw a lot of attention and interest.  I live in NE Scotland and one of my aims is to promote this breed to the best of my ability so as to hopefully help increase their numbers in the working field. 

Nichol Watson events coordinator


 Irish water spaniels have been of interest to me for the last two decades; following the SIWSC at events and fairs, and making great friends along the way.  We managed to fit our own Irish Water Spaniel, Fenwick (Lachanstrand’s Dubhlainn at Janbry), into our lives in 2015, looking for a brilliant multipurpose dog, something he is enjoying growing into.  I am currently involved in a couple of beating lines, a member of Newcastle Wildfowler’s Association, and enjoy other sporting opportunities that Fenwick and I can get involved in.  We hope that we continue along this path with Fenwick’s son, Gefrin (Kirkmarsh’s Ferryman). I am strong supporter of making the best of the breed in in all environments, and making this a platform for getting better – whether this is being active with a single dog, or working a large team.  I have thoroughly enjoyed helping at breed confined tests and publicising at fairs, and look forward to a committed and productive association with the SIWSC.   

Ursula Wilcox - membership


 I have owned IWS for the last 16 years. Initially as pets but very quickly we trained them for work in the field.  Our IWS have been used for beating, picking up and wildfowling. 
Over the years we have had a number of litters and some of those puppies we bred have also been used in the field and for breeding.

I am passionate about the IWS and as a committee member I can help the club in promoting them to the wider public. 

I feel that I have skills which lend themselves to assist in administering the club. Having worked in the public and private sector, managing office procedures has taught me to be well organised and methodical with a keen eye for detail and a democratic approach to all committee and club members. We must not forget that the primary aim is to preserve and promote the breed we are so passionate about.

Sue Hempstead


 I got my first Irish Water Spaniel in 2005 which was Zac (Cuvana Loutre de Mer), who proved himself again and again in both the working and showing world.  From the first litter that Zac sired in 2007 we got our wonderful Caz who was a very special little girl who just loved to please and loved life be it picking up on shoots, meeting and greeting at events or parading round the show ring. 

In 2015 I was very fortunate to acquire 2 lovely puppies Malachi and Anoushka who are now both successfully picking up on 4 shoots in Surrey and Kent. In December 2018 Anoushka had a litter of puppies so I am now the proud owner of 3 IWS – Malachi, Anoushka and Sinead and cannot imagine life without them.  

I both show and work my IWS but I am passionate about keeping this wonderful breed working - in the shooting field they are second to none frequently finding the bird that no-one else could.

The health of this wonderful breed is extremely important to me so it is a great privilege to be the Health Breed Coordinator for both clubs who are now working together to improve the health of the breed.  

Sue Margerison


 After being involved with Labs & then CCR’s for many years we added IWS’s in 2012 after admiring the breed for several years but waiting for the opportunity to own  a good specimen of the breed. Kiki became our foundation bitch and in 2016 she had a lovely litter of 6 puppies, 3 working, 3 showing and working. Have enjoyed doing Demo’s. Sporting Dog Pavilions, Gundog Working Tests & picking up on 3 shoots. Looking forward to the future with our fabulous breed of Gundog. 

Steph Rolfe - Health & Welfare


 I have been involved with the club and IWS for many years. Our first family dog was an IWS and some 40 or more years later we have never been without one.

Darcy, my first Water Spaiel came to me an as untrained 2 year old who needed rehoming. So its quite appropriate that my role on the committee is to look after welfare. Unfortunately Darcy suffered from epilepsy and we lost him relatively young so health is another issue I am particularly interested in.

Jenny Menage


 WS’s have been my passion for some 50yrs, owning , breeding and competing in Working Tests, Field Trials, picking up on shoots and promoting the breed at Game Fairs. Having been a founder member have always tried to support the club in any possible way. Hoping to continue as a Committee Member to help any IWS owners to the enjoy the working aspect of this wonderful breed, as I have always done over many years. 

David Wilcox


 I have also owned IWS for 16 years and have used them for wildfowling, picking up and beating. A graduate Biologist I am particularly interested in health and breeding in a way to minimise the effects of a small gene pool. I have pieced together the largest IWS breed database which has been used for both scientific and historical research.