THE LONG ROAD TO RECOGNITION
Written by Lorna Wallace:
Many people have worked extremely hard over the years to promote the Ragdoll, not only sacrificing much time and energy, but by giving freely of their resources too.
Such was the dedication of Sue Ward-Smith, who with Mrs Pring’s continued help and guidance, finally in 1987 managed to get the Executive Committee to agree to the breed being registered on the Reference Register where they were described as Himalayan Longhairs. However, before any kittens could be placed on the register, it was necessary for their parents and grandparents to be registered and this meant Sue obtaining certified pedigrees from the USA, before she could start the chain of registrations.
With Pat Brownsell winding down her breeding in 1987 to move to Spain, Sue had acquired a number of Patriarca Ragdolls which included Rag Cowboyjoe, Ragfearless Fred, Ragmo and Raglarry Motto; Rag Daisymae, Ragablue Bayou and Ragapassion. Sue was also in touch with Lulu Rowley who agreed to her buying some of her cats complete with their Certified Pedigrees so that they too could be registered and she became the proud owner of Petil-lu Cardinal, Cherry, Clematis and Carina. She later also acquired Willy Wombat, Zak, and Cosmos, Blue Surprise, Lucy, Melonie, Zarina and Pollyanna.
It was also around this time that Sue invited a group of Ragdoll fanciers from around the country to form a club for the breed, since its popularity was increasing rapidly. Sue and her friends were very aware that it would take team work if the breed was ever to progress within the framework of the GCCF. The Inaugural Meeting of the British Ragdoll Club took place in London on 28 June 1987 and the Founding Members were: Sue Ward-Smith of Pandapaws, Carol Noel of Catricat, Ann Ferguson of Anzcatz, Marilyn Woolley of Mewcats, Sheila Chandler of Chandella, Viv Walker of Redwood, Grace McHattie of Superstar and Caroline Whitfield. Sue was Chairman and Carol Whitfield, Secretary.
One of the first functions that the club held was an Open Day at Sue’s home—Gardners Farm, Near Battle, East Sussex. There was an excellent attendance of 45 people interested in the breed who met for a buffet lunch followed by a most informative talk by Mr John Hansson, an International Judge who had judged Ragdolls at Cat Association Shows since they came into this country. He shared his considerable experience with the owners and breeders present by explaining the Standard of Points using Sue’s Ragdolls to demonstrate.
Grace McHattie, the then Editor of Cat World, and the first President of The British Ragdoll Club, was the obvious choice to act as Publicity Officer for the club and she set about organising a media campaign to introduce the Ragdoll to as wide an audience as possible. Television appearances were arranged and articles were submitted to all the mainstream cat magazines. Perhaps you may have seen Grace with her seal colour-pointed Ragdoll, Pandapaws Ragcrystal, on the BBC television children’s programme Going Live! Delighting the many millions of viewers with her antics. Apparently that morning she wasn’t feeling like being a Superstar, she was more interested in what was going on behind the sets. Phillip Schofield and Grace chatted as best they could about an invisible cat, while Crystal was occasionally visible crossing and re-crossing the rear of the picture hotly pursued by the programme’s two resident comedians.
Sadly Sue’s health broke down in 1989 and she found it necessary to take a backseat and so the flame was passed to the next Chairman and Secretary of the club, Ann Ferguson of Anzcatz and Graeme Woolley of Mewcats.
In order for the breed to progress to the next stage of recognition — Provisional — it was necessary for the committee of The British Ragdoll Cat Club to set up the Ragdoll Breed Advisory Committee (BAC) in line with GCCF Philosophy and Rules. Before an application for promotion could be submitted, the Ragdoll BAC required fulfilling the following criteria.