Gutsy effort at club trials leaves audience emotional

Levels Collie Club long-serving member Syd  Simpson (76) and Bear campaign in the straight huntaway event at the club trials last month. Photo by Vicky O'Connor
Levels Collie Club long-serving member Syd Simpson (76) and Bear campaign in the straight huntaway event at the club trials last month. Photo by Vicky O'Connor

Hamish and Anne Steele have enjoyed many highlights in their years of service to the Levels Collie Club, but they say none would be as poignant or memorable for all involved as the campaign by long-serving club member and friend Syd Simpson at this year's club trials.

Mr Simpson (76), who is battling cancer, had been determined to run his dogs in the trials despite having been discharged from hospital a fortnight earlier after surgery.

He campaigned heading dog Rose on the first day of the trials on a ''miserable, cold day''.

''He was so determined.

''He had made up his mind and that was that,'' Mrs Steele said.

The next day, he and Bear competed to finish second with 95 points in the open of the straight hunt.

It was an emotional moment with hardly a dry eye in sight as his family congratulated him and his mates gathered to help him off the course, Mrs Steele said.

''Kevin [trial judge Kevin Lamont] jumped out of the box to help him, saying: 'I damn near started crying myself.' ''It was just terrific.

''It was like someone gave you a handful of gold.

''Talk about guts,'' Mrs Steele said.

Mr Simpson's lifetime interest in dogs began when he went shepherding as a young man, at first on low country and then on high country stations, before he moved to work as a shepherd at the freezing works at Pareora.

- by Ruth Grundy