Graham Godfrey

Graham's profession and life style (farming) is very much different from the rest of the Godfrey family as his father was a bank manager and his brother likewise. However, his decision to choose the outside life instead of the office was probably well made as I can't really see him being happy tied down to a desk job. Apart from that, some of his handwriting can be quite challenging too! So farming it was and has always been throughout his working life.

His first steps into agriculture were at Seale-Hagre College in Devon as there is a need to acquire in-depth knowledge and a sound grounding on any subject. Although for several years, it seems that his daily routine has been big pigs at work and small pigs at home, this has not always been the case and I can remember the time when a herd of pedigree Hereford cattle was his pride and joy. That was during his first stint at Marsh Farm, South Woodham Ferrers but he has certainly plied his trade in other spheres and other places. It was rare breeds in Kent and Nottingham for some years before returning to Marsh Farm where he remains today. Before then, there had been other stints around Essex and even further afield too as two years were spent abroad in Olgod, Denmark on a dairy farm.

When it comes to big pigs, the breeds kept have been various with both commercial and rare breed types being kept. Recently, it has been Oxford Sandy and Black and one to rival the cute Kune Kune (don't ask Graham about these) as crowd pullers for the public.  His first small pigs (cavies) were, apparently, a pair of Whites that he had as pets when aged six. Over the years, Graham has kept most breeds so that he has a feel and an experience of what is required in that particular variety.  This way he acquires the knowledge to give every exhibit a fair appraisal whatever section he is asked to judge at shows.

However, marked breeds are indeed his favourites (Dutch, Magpies, Harlequins, Otters and Fox currently kept) and although he tries to keep the best examples that he can, he is only too aware that like is not guaranteed to produce like and that the elusive flyer can come from anywhere. Whatever else he has in his shed, Dutch have always been there (although the colours may change) and he tells me that he started with Red Dutch in 1969 with stock from J. Collings and later from Brian Passmore.

A lot of the breeds kept by Graham can be considered heartbreak types with so many near misses being bred. As a result, Graham modestly describes his stud as a collection of pets with the odd showable one. Notwithstanding that, he has had several Best in Show awards with Dutch with the first being with a Golden Agouti Dutch at St Austell; no mean achievement. Several Southern Cavy Club and Dutch Cavy Club champions have been claimed with his favourite pig being Double Ch. Red Georgina, a lovely sow with a great show temperament.

As a Dutchman, Graham gets most pleasure from showing at Dutch Cavy Club stock shows and he recalls a memorable Best Dutch award under Margaret Elward with a Red boar. That he feels has to be his most memorable win although closely followed by another stock show win under Amy Heale where he got Best Dutch with a Silver Agouti boar.

Graham goes back far enough to remember sending stock to shows from Lostwithiel Rail Station, eagerly awaiting the return of the travelling box and opening to see whether there were any red cards or not. One instance that he recalls is sending a Golden Agouti Dutch sow to the old London Ch. Show at Alley Pally. Although the pig only got Fourth under Margaret Elward, he still has the card and the attached slip still has prize money to be claimed Graham wonders if Cinders would be kind enough to honour it, inflation adjusted!

The feeding regime for his stock is fairly basic with a dry mix of horse pasture mix, rabbit mix and readigrass, all mixed together. The green food side of things varies with the seasons and can consist of carrots, spring greens, mangolds, grass with a piece of apple to each pig when available. Of course, good hay is given each day too. On show preparation, he is honest enough to admit that he is not the best at grooming but expects a pig to be shown at its best if it is to do well on the show table.

Being a Cornishman, Graham has several links with the South West and, for many years, was a working volunteer in the organisation of the Devon County Show. Only his work commitments have stopped him recently from continuing with an unbroken run of being a night steward for the Cavy Section. Even so, he ended up giving 28 years of service and, on the occasion of 25 year's service, he was presented with a certificate and engraved tankard by the Duke & Duchess of Wessex; something that he well deserved and was very proud to receive.

One dubious claim as a highlight of his time in the Cavy Fancy was to win the race around Writtle Green as the 'Flying Dutchman'. I'm a bit peeved about this as, perhaps, it was more a question that I lost than he won   I was conned into poor tactics and blew up trying to front run when I should have played a waiting game. Nonetheless, I have to begrudgingly admit that he won and well.

As is evident from my earlier comments, Graham is a longstanding judge holding a position on the panels of the National Cavy Club, Southern Cavy Club, Nat. Tort & White Cavy Club, Nat. Fox & Tan Cavy Club and is a life judge and life member of the Dutch Cavy Club. As a judge, he feels honoured to have judged at the Real London Show, Harrogate (Bradford Ch Show) and overseas in Denmark and Norway.

Additionally, he has been the chairman for the Dutch Cavy Club for something like 22 years and continues to give the Club, good service in this position. This can be a difficult job and quite often the DCC has been grateful for his wise counsel. At one time, he served on the committee of the Southern Cavy Club.

Graham offers some thoughts on the future of the Cavy Fancy. He feels that the value of the agricultural shows and the major championship shows should not be underestimated as they are a shop window for our hobby and give one an opportunity to connect with the general public. Others need to be encouraged to join our ranks but smaller gardens and other hobbies mean that it is not easy to attract new fanciers.  In his opinion, it doesn't matter if they come to a show just to show a pet as it can be a start to something bigger and they should all be encouraged.

With a lot of shows being lost or combined in recent years, he finds it refreshing to see some clubs starting up like Cumbria.  Hopefully, they will be will supported and flourish. He adds that it is the people involved that make our hobby from the hard working secretary to the pet exhibitor. He has forged great friendships with many all over the country that stand the test of time. He wants the fancy to remain a hobby and not become too 'political' so he can continue enjoying his time with fanciers for many years to come and even breed that elusive flyer.

Interests outside the fancy revolve around his family as he is happily married to Elaine with two daughters, Alison and Jennifer. Holidays are regularly taken in the Lake District, an area of England that he rates greatly and can involve a visit to Cartmel races if time and weather allows.

Finally, he has reminded me that I first met Graham some time in the 1970s when I was judging in the Town Hall in Truro. I can still remember it: A case of once seen, never forgotten.

ALLAN TRIGG