My name is Helaina, and for the last nearly four years I’ve been the Junior Editor for the Fur & Feather Magazine. I started off in the Rabbit Fancy when I was 12 years old, when I brought a blue-eyed-white Lionhead doe with wonky ears and her breeder asked if I was interested in showing her. The Southern Championships in 2012 was my first time exhibiting, and I remember watching the judges and deciding that this was something I wanted to keep on trying. Of course my wonky-eared Lionhead didn’t last very long on the show table as my rabbit shed grew slowly in size, retiring as a beloved pet and reminder of where it all began.
Nine years later, the Rabbit Fancy is still an amazing part of my life. Exactly one year after the first show I attended to watch what it was all about, I won my first Best Junior with the Fareham & Southampton Club. Later that year we ventured up to Peterborough for the 2013 London Championships, my first 5* show, and finally in 2015 we made it to Harrogate for my first Bradford Championships where I won my first ever 5* CC. That year was my final year in the Juniors and some of my proudest wins to date, ending it with 5 Best Junior wins and Best Junior Fancy at the Southern Championships with another BEW Lionhead under the same judge who helped me out at my first Southern Champs. A beautiful full circle win that I’ll never forget.
I joined the National Lionhead committee at 15, getting me even more involved in the inner workings of the Fancy. After many years of stewarding I was offered my first judging appointment at the New Forest Show in 2016, and another one later that year at the Fareham and Southampton Club back where I first turned up as a clueless newcomer. We added a small collection of Mini Rexes into our Lionhead shed and started a curiosity project trying to breed the Red colour into Lionheads thanks to a few French imports. In 2018 I returned to the Southern Championships not as an exhibitor but as a judge for the Junior classes, a true honour and special moment.
They say all good things must come to an end, and unfortunately my exhibition days have been no exception. University life has brought me to London, a tiny flat, and my Lionheads left behind. But my purple showing coat is still in my cupboard for whenever I board the train that’s bound to Peterborough or Doncaster or whatever show I have the time to escape to. Writing for the Fur & Feather has kept me involved in the Rabbit Fancy and I’m so grateful to all the Junior friends I’ve made as well as every single person who’s been involved in my journey with the Lionheads. While I’m at vet school I’m still doing my bit for rabbits, devoting as many assignments as possible to rabbit research and raising awareness among my vet friends.
I’ve found the most amazing, crazy, devoted family in the Rabbit Fancy who have watched me grow up from a shy pre-teen to a slightly-less-shy grown up in her twenties. And I hope that there are other Juniors out there, little hopefuls standing where I once did at the 2012 Southern Championships, that will find the same home with us as I’ve found.
I first started of showing and breeding around five years ago now. It all started when my dad met his girlfriend, Lindsay Cameron, as she had recently started showing her Himi Mini Rex. After about a monthly so attending the local shows with them I was asked if I would like to show one of Lindsay’s mini Rex, that’s where it all began. In January the year after we attended Bradford Champs at Harrogate, a real experience seeing all the breeds as a newcomer and junior to the hobby, but most importantly, we picked up my own colour choice of mini Rex. This was a Siamese seal that we got from Tony Peacock, a real nice rabbit who did quite a bit of winning. We are very grateful to Tony for getting us going and having other stock from him later in the year. Not long after this we also got into polish and high, I started off with smokes and then later on getting into REW’s. These were originally from Chris and Neil Harris and David Gallagher, so another thanks to them for getting us going with them which was really encouraging as a junior to know that people are happy to help.
Now a few years on I have left the juniors and as soon as I did, we formed the stud of “Broadoak” stud which myself, Lindsay and my dad are in. The first year of the stud we won a few best furs and a couple of BIS’s and then the lockdown hit! During this time, we concentrated on breeding and developing out stock. In the stud we still have the seals, Martins, himis and the poles but over the years have added sallanders, the odd thuringer (used for colour in sallanders), lynx mini Rex, cinnamons and opal mini rex(lockdown project).
What I enjoy? I obviously like the showing side of the hobby, but when I started off I really enjoyed trying to learn about all the different breeds, a few people helped with this in the fancy by talking through each breed and what to look for. I still enjoy this, but this helped me lead onto start to judge 1 star shows before lockdown. Even though we can’t show iv enjoyed the breeding side but now really looking forward to shows starting to be able to enjoy the social side of the hobby. If any juniors are looking to get into any of the breeds, we keep please don’t hesitate to ask as we are always willing to help.
I started showing rabbits around 3 years ago as I had a huge interest in watching my sister look after hers and see what she did at shows, ever since then, I have had a huge interest that has grown throughout the years, ever since I started I have always shown mini lops but I heart always went to the black otters so from then on I have had black otters, I had my first litter of black otters a few months into showing and after that I became more interested in them and I bred my most successful rabbit ‘Donny’ who was very successful for me in my short time in rabbits, Best Junior at Scottish Championship show, Best junior at the biggest show of the year The Bradford Championship Show. Lenny who won Best Lop in the St Ledges Stakes this year at The Bradford 2020. Being part of the fancy is amazing it is it all about the winning but it's making new friends from all over some that become like family.
Fur & Feather Junior Club Editor
The Junior Fanciers are increasing in numbers year on year and are helping to contribute to the great number of exhibits at the rabbit shows around the country. The juniors now also have their own page in the Fur and Feather magazine which enables them to send in pictures and letters and read how other juniors around the UK are doing. It is a great success as it also means that juniors are allowed to talk about matters that they think need improving in the rabbit Fancy as a whole.
The Juniors are the future of the Rabbit Fancy and they need all the encouragement that can be given as in this day and age it is hard to finance their rabbits and be prepared to look after them. The Juniors is where all the great fanciers of the past and present began, remember that you were in their shoes once and remember how it felt .Thank you for reading about the Juniors and I hope you enjoyed it.
Junior of the Year Recipients
|2019||Miss Zoe Williams||Master Charlie Gregory||Master Spencer Bartle|
|2018||Miss Antonia Galloway||Master Charlie Gregory||Miss Elicia Mae McDonagh|
|Miss Freya Cavill||Charlie Gregory|
|2016||George Moss||Hayden Hutchinson||Spencer Bartle|
|2015||Aliyah Ajmal||Claudia Smith||Charlotte Needham|
|2014||Spencer Collins||Shikona Rundle||Louise Davy|
|2013||Paige Illett||Louise Davy||Amy Grayson|
|2012||Lucy Berry||Louise Davy||Lee Daley|
|2011||Debbie Thacker||Kieran Couch||Louise Davy|