Writing on the history of the Serenfach Kennel, Eric Catherall wrote, “Serenfach, pronounced serenvach, is my prefix. It was chosen for me by my late father-in-law, Mr. Elwy Jones, who was my silent partner for about twenty years. [sic] Not only was he my greatest friend and mentor, he was also a real Welsh gentleman in every way. Serenfach means ‘little star’ in English and because he thought Welsh Terriers were all little stars, this seemed a very apt name for our kennel. The ‘Elwy Jones Memorial Trophy’ is offered every year at the Club Championship Show for Best Novice, simply because he always loved to help novice exhibitors.
My story begins in September 1960 my wife and I had been blessed twelve months earlier with our one and only child, a boy who we christened Steven, we both agreed this would be a good time to obtain a puppy to grow up with our little son as a companion and playmate [sic].
After a lot of thought, we decided we would like to purchase a Miniature Schnauzer and after a few enquiries, we discovered a kennel about three miles away owned by a certain Squadron Leader S.E. Whiteley. I decided to visit this kennel to see if he had any puppies for sale.
Squadron Leader Whiteley was retired from the R.A.F. and now owned a grocery shop and general store, of which he was extremely proud, in the middle of a large council estate. Although he opened his shop seven days a week, he still found time for breeding dogs.
If ever I was to write a book about my ‘doggy’ experiences, I could write a very large chapter on Squadron Leader Whiteley. He was the most likeable rogue I have ever known.
But back to my story, when I arrived at his kennel he told me he had stopped breeding Schnauzers because they were always howling; he suggested I should have a Welsh Terrier. I immediately thought he was pulling my leg, as I had never heard of the breed. He assured me there was, and led me to a rather large shed, he opened the door, and when I looked in, there was [sic] about six or eight little black and tan dogs running around wagging their tails like mad. It was love at first sight.
Imagine my disappointment when he said he was sorry he did not have any puppies for sale, but if I wanted, I could borrow one of his older bitches, breed a litter, pick a puppy for my son then return the bitch and remaining puppies to him. This I agreed to do; from then on we became very good friends.
He introduced me to showing and taught me all the tricks of the trade, and believe me there are many tricks to be learnt [sic].
But for all his knowledge he could not trim and present terriers to a championship standard. I had to learn the hard way by trial and error, mostly error.
But now I can compete and have competed with the best and have had my fair share of success. To date: Top Breeder for two consecutive years 1983 and 1984; six British champions; six American champions; numerous Continental champions.
In 1988 I was invited to judge Welsh Terriers on the west coast of America. In 1991 at the World Dog Show in Dortmund, Germany, I had the pleasure of handling two Welsh Terriers which had been bred by me. But the icing on the cake for me is my recent appointment to judge Welsh Terriers at the greatest show in the world; yes, Crufts in 1993.
All of this was achieved in just over 32 hard, but very enjoyable years, during which time, I was able to help other Welsh Terrier exhibitor to avoid many of the pitfalls I had to endure during the dog show learning.”*
In the Welsh Terrier Association 1988 Year Book, Bernie McGovern wrote the tale of “Serenfach Claire.” “It was a typical raw Irish winter’s evening,” she wrote. “There I was glancing through the Evening Press and there in the Dogs For Sale section, was Welsh Terrier Bitch For Sale. Despite the weather, off we went; after all it costs nothing to look. When we got there it was hard to see what she was, as her coat was sadly overgrown, but we decided to take a chance.
On paper she looked promising, and once home, a hacksaw blade was used to try and get a better look at what we had. With a lot of effort, it became evident that we had got something that with more effort would be a real asset. The bitch was called Serenfach Claire.
We had been thinking of a Wire-haired Terrier for some time, and finding Claire was a real stroke of luck. We had an introduction to a delightful breed, and once in reasonable condition, we knew we would have a lot of fun with her. To any novices like ourselves, we have nothing but praise. They are easy to keep, nice to show, and great with the family (we have three children). Every home should have one.
Once we started to show Claire, she reveled in it. The first time shown on St. Patrick’s Day ’87, she won Best of Breed. She followed this that year by winning three Terrier Groups and one Reserve Best in Show at All Breed Championship Shows. It was a great year. Towards the end of the year, we decided to mate her and she duly gave us four both puppies, one which looks very promising and has since won very well for us. This would have been all we could have asked for, but there was to be cream on the cake.
We learned that Claire had qualified for the finals of ‘Irish Show Dog of the Year,’ sponsored by Pedigree Chum. We felt it was a great honour to represent the breed, as we are numerically small. What a night it turned out to be when the judges awarded Claire the title of Irish Show Dog of the Year for 1987. Talk about the Luck of the Irish. But in all fairness, the Welsh had a lot to do with it.”**
Among the offspring of “Claire,” sired by Eng. Ch. Bowers Jigsaw of Eladeria are Fintona Special Event (Green Star and BOB); Fintona Fancy Nancy (Green Star and BOB); Fintona Fair Play (Green Star and BOB), owned by Mr. C. Hackett in Ireland; Fintona Truly Naughty, owned by Ingrid and Carl Borchorst; and Purston Show Off (Group and CC Winner).
Ingrid and Carl Borchorst imported her in 1988. Since 1975, the Borchorst’s have bred and owned more than 35 Welsh Terrier Champions who have won many group placements, Terrier of the Year in Denmark (Int.Ch.Dk.Ch.KBHW.83.BESG.83 Redpower’s Rumson Boy, “Johnny” in 1983 and Dk.CH.KBHB.95YWW95KB.CH.NW.96 Borchorst Hoedown in 1996), and even No. 1 Dog All Breeds (“Johnny” in Denmark in 1983, and “Claire” in Ireland, acquired in 1988).
The Borchorst’s imported 14 Welsh Terriers to Denmark, including dogs from Mervyn Pickering (Groveview) and Mair and Eric Catherall (Serenfach) in Wales, Britt and Ake Ahlberg (Redpower) in Sweden, and Jan Albers (High Flyer) in Holland in order to keep the type of their Welsh Terriers as correct as possible with variation in the gene pool. They have also exported their Welsh Terriers to Finland, Norway, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Italy.
“Claire” is the daughter of Felstead Flittermere x Serenfach Cherie. The Borchorst’s remarked her ways were “second to none, charming, gentle, yet definitely a terrier.”