The idea of a dog training club in the Uckfield area of East Sussex originated from a small group of members of the then British Alsatian Association (B.A.A) East Sussex branch at Hadlow Down. This group attended training classes aimed at one breed the German Shepherd Dog (G.S.D., as Alsatians are now called) but felt that there was a need for a training club which offered training for all breeds of dog within the vicinity. With some searching a small hall was found at The Church Centre, Belmont Road, Uckfield. It was not ideal but good enough to get a start and gain some idea as to whether such a club was in fact viable in the area.
To start the club Trainers were found from among the friends of the founder group. Members of the group all continued to attend meetings of the B.A.A. in addition to their support of the new club. The opening night was set for Tuesday 18th May 1971 when 15 members attended with dogs. The club was set up with finances of £2.63 an odd amount, perhaps this was the loose change someone had in their pocket at the time? From such small beginnings the club began to grow.
The club registered with The Kennel Club in September of that year with the first club competitions being held on 12th October and the first A.G.M. was in early December 1971. By this time the treasurer was able to report that club funds were running at £12.24 - a big step forward from the original starting point - and membership had grown significantly. As born out by a sentence in the minutes of a committee meeting dated 6th December 1971 which simply said "We will need a larger hall". A write up to that effect appeared in The Sussex Express on December 31st 1971. In reality it was going to take another 3 years to achieve this!
In April 1972 Ringcraft classes were introduced to the club, these being run by a well known local breeder who was also an International Judge. The classes were held in the grounds of The Church Hall during good weather with only one small problem - the local Campanologists held their bell ringing practice on the same evenings. In all 1972 was another successful year as, in addition to the ringcraft training, the club took part in the big annual Uckfield Lions Fete by running its first Exemption Dog Show. So by the time the Club's 2nd A.G.M came around in December 1972 the treasurer was able to report club funds running at £30.85.
During 1973 the club had progressed to the extent that matches with other clubs were undertaken. But a canine disaster struck in the form of an outbreak of Distemper in the Uckfield area which resulted in the club closing it's doors, as a quarantine measure, from April until the end of May when the Veterinary Surgeons declare the area clear and the club could proceed.Again helping The Uckfield Lions run the 1973 Exemption Show. An unfortunate result of the close-down caused by the Distemper outbreak set attendance figures back. As so often happens, if meetings are suspended, members get involved with other things on club evenings, it then takes time to get back to normal, and so it proved. However by the end of 1973 and the 3rd A.G.M club funds were running at £51.27 and at that meeting it was suggested that the club should consider running a ten week course for new handlers and dogs; a suggestion which, interestingly, was not accepted at that time by the committee.
1974 had its usual flow of matches, club competitions and exemption shows. Also it was at last agreed that the club would run 10 week courses for new handlers, this proved to be the right move and courses have been run on a regular basis to this day. During 1974 the problem of hall size really had to be addressed, this required the then committee to find alternative venues that would allow dog training to take place, a number of possible halls were found in places such as Heathfield - Isfield - East Hoathly. A vote by all members took place, resulting in a decision to move to our present site at the Goward Hall, Cade Street, Old Heathfield. Thus the club continued to go from strength to strength and by the 4th A.G.M., now held in December, funds were reported at £137.00.
1975 found the club running from the new hall. This made things much easier as members could enjoy the use of the larger hall together with a second smaller hall, central heating and a good sized kitchen. Also the use of the hall's car park - a luxury they had not previously had. 1975 saw the club progress with members, events and courses proving the original idea of an all breeds club in the area to be a good one.
With a full membership and healthy finances in the intervening years we have been able to run matches, annual club dinners, talks and demonstrations also annual companion dog shows in aid of charities. The charities are selected by the membership being in aid of animal or human causes on an alternate basis. One of the organisations to which the club donated was International Animal Rescue; a charity which recently came to prominence when the story of the freeing of the last dancing bear in India was taken up by the media. Happy Retirements, a small local horse rescue charity personally known to a number of the members has also been a recipient as has the Sussex Air Ambulance, a recurring favourite.
During each year the club holds it's in-house annual competitions at which dogs can compete with others in the club at an appropriate level, not necessarily according to their class. One of the real highlights of the year is the summer Superdogs event with a variety of obedience, agility and fun activities with a BBQ for all members. Each year ends with a Christmas Party enjoyed by members and dogs alike.