Supreme Cat Show Feature 2006
30 Years Of The Supreme
THIRTY YEARS ago Dr Bill Groom, Chairman of the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy from 1974 to 1977, had a dream of putting on a ‘Crufts for Cats’. He believed that Britain had the finest cats in the world and wanted to create a showcase for them. Thirty years later his dream is still going strong but there have been struggles, tears, sadness, laughs and, for some, moments of pure joy, along the way.
It had taken the Cat Fancy a long time to give the go ahead for the idea of the Supreme but on 18th December 1976 at Bingley Hall in Staffordshire the first Supreme Cat Show took place. You can only imagine how daunting a task it must have been to put that first show together.
It was decided that all entries for the show must qualify by winning at a Championship show so that it would be a true showcase of the best cats and the winner could be proclaimed the best cat in the fancy.
The show was only open to Championship status breeds but there was a club exhibition section for breeds without championship status which, at that time, included Tortie Burmese, Korats, Oriental Lilacs and Foreign Whites.
SUPREME CH MOONDANCE JOCASTA, the winner of the very first Supreme back in 1976.
The other innovation was that the method of Judging was to be different in that the cat would come to the judge. At this first show 567 cats, kittens and neuters were in competition or on exhibition. The honour of being considered Best Cat went to Supreme Grand Champion Moondance Jocasta a tabby point Siamese owned and bred by Mrs Janice Brain.
The second show was held on November 26th 1977 this time at Bristol Exhibition Centre. This year marked the beginning of an extremely successful eleven years of managing the show for Pinky and John Shewbridge.
A year later the venue changed again. The third show was held in a converted tram shed in Leeds, a choice that received a lot of criticism. But even this did not dampen the increasing excitement surrounding the show. Leeds was again the venue in December 1979 and for the first time the overall winners could put the title of Supreme in front of their names. It was decided that this could also be applied to previous winners as well.
A venue and date change in 1980 meant that there was no Supreme Show and exhibitors had to wait a short while until January 1981 to try to win at Manchester’s Belle Vue. The winner was a popular choice, a Blue Colourpoint, Supreme Grand Champion Premontre Tancred owned and bred by Judge Mrs Shingleton. This was also the first time that a Household Pets section was introduced to the show and Adolescent classes were introduced.
The Greatest Show On Earth
Ever on the move, Bingley Hall Exhibition Centre in the centre of Birmingham was the destination for the 1982 and 1983 shows.
The show followed a circus, which then included animals like big cats. A lot of disinfectant was needed to remove that unique circus smell! Despite attracting 809 exhibits concerns were expressed about the cost of holding the show. This was exacerbated because exhibits only entered in one class so the revenue, compared to other shows, was significantly affected.
Pedigree Pet Foods, who had always financially supported the show, offered to become more involved and with a little help from a guest appearance by Rolf Harris and a record 900 entrants, the eighth Supreme Show in 1984 brought in a profit for the first time making around £500. 1984 was also the first year that Provisional or Preliminary status breeds were allowed to compete. Unfortunately that year Bingley Hall Exhibition Centre burnt down so the show was on the move again.
Home At Last!
The ninth show in 1985 was a landmark year for the Supreme as it moved to the NEC which has remained it home, except for one year, ever since. It also coincided with the 75th Anniversary of the GCCF so it became the centrepiece for a huge celebration.
There was a record entry of over 1,000 cats and the show attracted visitors from all over the world. The Supreme show in its new home seemed to have finally achieved the status and recognition as a showpiece for the best of British that its founders dreamed about.
But celebrations came to a tragic end the following year when show committee received the sad news on the eve of the tenth show on May the 10th 1986 that GCCF Chairman Mary Wilson had died. Despite the sadness surrounding the show the committee, ever the professionals, and under the guidance of Show Manager Kay Burgess, held a fantastic show in Mary’s honour.
Under Kay’s continued guidance the Supreme was now running like clockwork and even a move back to Bingley Hall in Staffordshire for the 12th Show in 1988 did not cause any problems. This year also saw the introduction of UK Grand Certificates. The 14th Supreme show brought more tragedy with the death of the Chairman and Show Manager Kay Burgess.
Known for her endless energy and ability, the format, style and success of the Supreme today is largely due to her vision and hard work. As they say, ‘the show must go on’ and despite the cloud of sadness over the event the committee again put on a show, dedicated to Kay, that she would have been proud of.
It was held on May 12th 1990 in Hall 4 at the NEC and Supreme exhibit went for the first time ever to a Burmese, Mrs Barbara Boizard-Neil’s beautiful Supreme Grand Champion Bambino Bluebelle. Barbara had been consistently producing top winning cats for many years. In the morning, for the third time, she had taken the title of Top Breeder in the Cats/Whiskers Breeder of the year competition and so winning Supreme Exhibit in the afternoon must have topped off a truly amazing day!
Supreme Grand Champion Bambino Bluebelle - the first ever Burmese Supreme Champion in 1990.
Onward and Upward
In 1991 NEC the 15th Supreme Show was held on May 11th and had a record entry, the largest number of titled cats ever assembled and record attendance figures with over 10,000 visitors and owners. The title of Supreme kitten went to a 7 month old Chocolate Burmese owned by Barry Street and bred by Gill Pascoe.
This was the first cat Barry had ever owned and the first kitten Gill had ever bred, demonstrating that, because it is the cat that is being judged, it is possible for a novice exhibitor to end up winning Supreme Exhibit.
The 16th Supreme Show held on 28th November 1992 saw the introduction of the Semi-Longhair section and for the first time the Supreme Adult, Supreme Kitten and Supreme Neuter competed against each to find the Supreme Best in Show, the Supreme Cat of 1992. This title went to Mrs Keler’s Premier Akdamar Balcioglu Toru bred by Mrs Joyce Johnson. The Auburn Turkish Van Male took the Title of Supreme Kitten and Supreme Exhibit.
Since its introduction 14 Supreme Best in Show titles have been awarded; eight have gone to neuters, four to kittens and only two to adults. These went in 1994 to beautiful Havana male, Supreme Grand Champion & Grand Premier Rimana Sangria owned by Mrs Wooller and bred by Mr and Mrs Ward and in 2001 to a stunning Red Burmese male, Supreme UK Grand Champion Oakenshield Buster Bertie owned by Mrs Bass and bred by Mrs Kempe.
There have also only been two female winners; in 1994 a Chocolate Burmese kitten, Grand Champion Hypnos Pearly Pandora owned and bred by Mrs Hope and in 2002 a Chinchilla neuter, Supreme UK Grand Premier Yankidoodle Fairy Dust owned by Mrs Wheeler and bred by Mrs Signey. Perhaps 2006 will see the first female adult winner!
In 1993 at the 17th Supreme Show it was decided that there should be no Supreme Kitten because the show had grown so large in 1992 that the Show Committee thought that having a show without kittens would give them time to decide how such large entries could be judged properly, without stressing cats or judges.
There were also some layout changes. Non-pedigrees had double pens for the first time enabling them to compete on an equal basis in the decorated pen competition.
There was also a change to the layout of the judging rings. It was decided that the rings should be circular and divided into segments with each judge having a segment to themselves.
This would enable them to have their cats penned on either side of the judges’ table with the judges facing outwards so they could judge the cats and show them to the public with much greater ease. It was decided that there would be eight rings, seven pedigree and one non-pedigree. New breeds on show in the exhibition pens included Bengals, Ocicats and Singapuras.
Supreme UK GR PR AKDAMAR BAZISEY MAHSUS, the second Turkish Van to win the title, but the only cat to ever be placed Supreme Exhibit twice in 1995 and 1996.
In 1996 history was made when Supreme UK Grand Premier Akdamar Bazisey Mahsus, an Auburn Turkish Van Male Neuter owned and bred by Joyce Johnson retained the Supreme best in show title he had won in 1995, as such he is the only cat to ever to win the title twice.
In recent years, the 24th Supreme show in 2000 saw in the millennium in style with a bigger than ever entry 0f 1,792 cats including 1,523 pedigrees. The theme for the decorated pens was, of course Millennium.
In 2003 the Provisional breeds competed against the Championship status breeds for the first time, so for the first time a Provisional status breed could, and did, become a Best of Variety winner. This honour went to a Brown Spotted Bengal male, Glitterglam Thriller, owned and bred by Mr G. & Mrs J. Fyfe taking Best of Variety Foreign Adult.
This year also marked the end of Pedigree Pet Foods financial support of the Supreme. This was a blow to the show, as with the loss of Pedigree’s support the show also lost a certain amount of status with the general public.
GIZMO was Best Supreme Household Pet twice, three years apart, in 1996 and 1999.
In 2004 Best of Variety Persian Neuter, Supreme Neuter & Supreme Exhibit was Grand Champion & Supreme UK Grand Premier Lindenlea Reachfor Thesky an Orange-Eyed White Persian male neuter, owned by Janet Raffaelli and bred by Gail Houston. This is Buddy’s second Supreme win as he was Best of Variety Persian Adult in 2001, and Gail’s third as she also bred the 2003 Supreme Adult.
The 29th Supreme Show 2005 saw the first Cat with an Imperial title take Supreme best in show title. The magnificent Supreme UK & Imperial Grand Premier Dairymaine Chestaton, a red tabby Maine Coon male neuter, owned and bred by Mrs J. M. Haynes was the worthy winner.
The 2005 Supreme exhibit, SUPREME UK IMP GR PR DAIRYMAINE CHESTATON.
30 Years Young
Looking through last year’s catalogue at the pictures of all the beautiful winners over the past 30 years, it is clear that Bill Groom was right; we do have the finest cats in the world and the Supreme has proved the perfect showcase for the Best of British.
However, it could be argued that the show reached its pinnacle in the 1990s and his vision of the Supreme as the Crufts of the cat world is slipping further away from becoming reality.
That said, this year has seen a renewed interest from the media with two television producers expressing an interest in the show.
But whether the Supreme ever becomes a household, world-recognised name like Crufts, whether we will ever see adverts promoting the show on peak time TV as we do for Crufts or whether the show will simply become a celebration for the Cat Fancy alone instead of an major event in the world’s social calendar remains to be seen.
In the meantime though, Happy 30th Birthday to the Supreme!
By Emma Matthews