It is with a broken heart that I write about the passing of my beloved husband, Hedd Richards on the 5th October 2023.
Some 12 weeks after judging Leonbergers at Crufts 2020, he became ill and in need of hospitalisation. Subsequent tests provided the grim diagnosis of Advanced Stage 4b Kidney Cancer (which meant it had spread to 5 other areas, including lungs) and the knowledge that this type of cancer does not respond to chemotherapy.
Fortunately, he was given immunotherapy which, in general, kept things stable for 2 years – during which he developed a life threatening bout of sepsis. Later, when the immunotherapy failed to keep the cancer at bay he was placed on a drug trial which, sadly did not work and resulted in his collapse, causing small spinal fractures and further hospitalisation.
During this gruelling time, his goal was to get ‘back to normal’ and resume his judging, enjoy quality time at home with the dogs, and make good memories.
Over the years Hedd has been on the committee of local canine societies, spent many years as a committee member and then Chair of The Newfoundland Club, before finally founding and setting up the Southern Newfoundland Club, of which he was Chairman until he stood down in 2022.I am proud of his achievements which include setting up a heart testing scheme in the breed – meaning that this criterion is now regarded as a must when breeding; judging low level draught tests in the breed; along with another kennel began routine elbow scoring before the BVA even took over the official scheme; actively promoting the education of new judges via the many seminars he presented. This is also reflected in his nomination to present the KC Breed Education Film which is now available on the Royal Kennel Club site.
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As a judge, he was the only Newf Breed Specialist to judge the Working Group and was also approved to award CCs in 11 breeds. He was delighted to have achieved more than he hoped for but not as much as he aimed for. The dog scene was one of the most significant parts of his life, and chatting to like minded people at shows or events were always part of the deal for him.
Since buying an electric scooter, he was still able to have some independence at shows and go off to chat to whoever he chose (though still needed me to ‘get him a pint’!)
I will miss having him by my side for over 40 years, his support, our lively arguments, and his unrepeatable comments every time I took the wrong lane at a roundabout.
The hundreds of tributes, private messages and other kind gestures since his passing make me hope that he knew how much he was liked and respected. He had requested a small informal funeral with a only ahandful of close family present.
In lieu of attendance at a funeral, please consider making a small donation to Ty Bryngwyn Hospice, Llanelli, who made him comfortable during his last weeks and showed compassion beyond anything I had envisaged. Alternatively you may want to donate to Newfoundland Rescue via one of the three clubs.
One of the many funny stories about Hedd was his eventual admission that he had learned French in school – which could have saved me ten frustrating weeks trying to master the language before a judging appointment.
On that note, I can only say ‘Au Revoir – you are missing from me’.