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Founded 1927

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Working Trials
Working Trials Training Days
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Officers & Committee

During the 1914 – 1918 war many British Troops had observed and had been impressed by the working ability of the German Shepherd Dog.  Following the cessation of hostilities some had been imported under the name “Alsatian”.  To promote the breed and to ensure its energies and abilities were properly directed a group of enthusiasts formed the Southern Alsatian Training Society.

The Society’s activities were suspended at the start of the Second World War.  However, some members, with the support of Major Baldwin, successfully demonstrated the ability of the dog to guard airfields and other MOD premises and this resulted in the formation of Guard Dog Schools; the senior instructors of which were all SATS members.

Ted Lygo joined the re-formed SATS after the war and the well attended training classes were held at the Ashdown Park Hotel, Coulsdon, Surrey and the big annual event was the North versus South match held between SATS and NATS (Northern Alsatian Training Society).

Following the War, the Society’s activities were resumed and application made to The Kennel Club for a licence to hold Championship Working Trials.   The only working trials at this time being two in the north of England and two in the South all organised by ASPADS.  Despite opposition from ASPADS, the Kennel Club granted SATS a licence to run working trials in the fifties.

First TD Championship Trial

SATS’ first TD Championship Trial was held in Nonsuch Park, Surrey.  The judge was Colonel Baldwin; the winner was Sergeant Osmond, Surrey Constabulary and Ted Lygo, who later became our President, laid the winning track. In fact, Captain Ron Sharp, Sonia Hardaway’s father used to travel to trials with Ted Lygo and Ted was president of SATS from 1988 until his death in June 1992.  He judged SATS first trial and track laid until the late eighties.

In the years before and immediately following the War, the majority of people in the South interested in dog training would have been members of SATS.   Some of their names are recorded on the Zena Memorial Challenge Shield.  One, which will be of particular interest in 1997, is a Miss B V Pindar, better known as Barbara Hill, who in this year celebrated her fiftieth year in obedience.

Many well-known trialists were members of SATS and put a lot into the sport to make it what it is today. For instance, Jack Comber president from the early seventies to 1988 won tickets in obedience and working trials with his German Shepherd Dogs.

Bill and Sonia Hardaway were committee members from the early seventies until 1990.  Sonia ran SATS Championship Breed Show for twenty years and to this day, we still run a Championship Breed Show every other year with Frances Webb, Tracy Wall and Kerry Jones in the driving seat.

The society has run a Championship Obedience Show from about the early fifties.  Monica Young being Show Manager from 1981 until her death in 1995 when Karina Griffiths came back to the committee and took on the task.

The Third Kennel Club Championships

In 1977 SATS ran the third Kennel Club Championships, tracking was on Ashdown Forest and the base and control was at Crowborough Army Camp.  The dinner and dance tickets cost 2.00!  The tracklayers were Brian Osborne, Ted Lygo, J Bostock, Bill Hardaway and Gordon Luck-Baker with Sonia and Wendy Stephens as search stewards.

The next time was SATS sixtieth year, 1987.  The South of England hurricane unfortunately hit the trial.   Bill Hardaway as trials manager did an excellent job of trying to bring some order out of chaos and eventually every competitor got a track.

The track layers being Keith Lake, John Harris, Brian Hall, Mike Edland and Dave Barwick.  Search stewards were Jenny Harvey and Timber Woods with Jane Gray and Yvonne Fisk as base stewards.  The tracks were on Ashdown Forest though it looked even less like a forest with fallen trees everywhere.   The control and man work was at Ardingly show ground.

First Agility Show

In 1986 SATS ran its first agility show and although very successful did not run another until two were run in 1996 and the same in 1997.  We now run one show a year on the August bank holiday weekend ably overseen by John Wykes as well as the usual PD championship, TD championship and two opens.

In 1991 training days were introduced for members, three separate days during the year.  These have proved very successful with various guest trainers from the trial world giving up their day to help others.

The 1997 Kennel Club Working Trial Championships will be the third that SATS has hosted for the Kennel Club and in their eighth year.

SATS has come a long way from the humble beginnings of a few German Shepherd Dog enthusiasts in 1927.

The present committee hopes that they can carry on in the same dedicated way as the past.

We should never forget those stalwart enthusiasts of the past who planted and nurtured the seed, which has become the strong and flourishing sport that is working trials today. Many of the names mentioned here are no longer with us and I hope this serves as a fitting memory to them.