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In Memory of Betty Foster (Bredon)

Betty Foster with Beardies Bess, Genie, Badger and Jack in Tiddesley Wood, April 2002.

Betty Foster with her Beardies Bess, Genie, Badger and Jack
in Tiddesley Wood, April 2002.

It is with a heavy heart that I write this article in memory of my dear friend Betty Foster. She died in the early hours of 6 May 2015 after being suddenly admitted to Worcester hospital.

I had known Betty for 40 years. I first met her when I was 14, when my parents purchased a caravan in 1975 and we started staying on her and Brian’s small holding in Wyre Piddle as she was a member of the Caravan Club. My parents got on famously with Betty and Brian and we spent many happy holidays there until my father’s untimely death in late 1979.

I remember my father coming home and saying he had found this lovely site in a place with a strange name and it was only 20 miles from home. He told my mother that he thought it would be great for me as there were so many animals there. How right he was. I spent many happy hours bottle feeding the lambs, playing with the kittens, riding the horses, picking plums in the orchard and of course playing with the wonderful beardies.

When I first knew Betty her beardie family consisted of Shep, Mouse, Dora & Floss (although Floss was not pure beardie, there was a bit of Border Collie in there, but she really got the working interest going). I had a mongrel of my own, but very quickly fell in love with the beardies. Who wouldn’t when Mouse would come down the field and sit outside the caravan looking hopeful? Then after giving her a treat she would disappear up the field only to return 10 minutes later with her current puppies who would then sit in a semi circle outside the caravan hopefully waiting for what their mother had had!

Those of you who may have known Betty would also know that she didn’t suffer fools and could be a bit spikey, but equally, she had a heart of gold and a wonderful sense of humour and fun. She certainly didn’t breed her beardies for profit. I was the recipient of two wonderful “gifts” over the years, Toby my first beardie and my darling Jack. I also know of at least two other friends who were also lucky recipients.

I believe Betty knew Colonel & Mrs Willison and her first beardie was called Shaggy, (I think she may have been a rescue). However Betty’s beardies were always bred for temperament and ability. The Bredon line had famous “old” beardie names in their breeding including Bothkennar and Wishanger.

I remember Betty saying that she originally showed her beardies back in the 1950’s and 60’s, but as time went on she got very disillusioned about the loss of working instinct and moved to breeding working dogs with “intelligence” and temperament. She also wanted to reverse the change in shape and coat that now typifies “show” beardies.

Over the years I spent many happy hours sitting in the open back of her Mini pickup with the dogs, leaping out at various points to put signs up directing BCC members to Pinvin and latterly Inkberrow. She could usually be found doing working tests with myself and another friend doing the paperwork in her caravan which she took to the venues.

Although travelling inside the pickup could be a bit of a challenge…. As Betty didn’t ever think anyone would ever steal anything, she didn’t believe in locking anything. This included her house and her car (it was an open “secret” the house key was kept in a margarine tub on the window sill!). Indeed the pickup would be parked on the drive, usually with both windows right down, whatever the weather, whatever the time of year. Fine, I hear you say. Not when what seemed to be most of the local spider population took up residence. Putting down the sun visor really wasn’t ever advisable as you really didn’t know what was going to land in your lap, and trust me, I don’t do spiders of any size! Also, we were travelling through a local village where there is a ford one day. As we approached Betty shouted “Feet up”. Just as well I obliged as two fountains of water came up through the holes in the floor of the pickup!!

Over the years we walked our beardies many miles down bridle paths, through Tiddesley Wood, and over the Malverns. On hot days we took them to paddle in the local Piddle Brook. She always joked that my beardies weren’t “proper dogs” as according to her they were far too clean!

Betty was very community minded too, she did meals on wheels, drove people for hospital and doctor visits, was on the Parish Council and a member of the WI. In fact the WI were lucky enough for Betty to give talks on plants and animals. She always attended these talks with at least two of her beardies, an array of plants and “Mrs Bant”, her tame bantam chicken.

In later years when the farm was getting too much for them both, the livestock was gradually sold until they were finally left with Genie, the last beardie she bred. When the farm was sold Brian went to live with their daughter and Betty due to failing health, to the nursing home in Upton.

She loved nothing better than for me to visit with my beardies and talk about the farm and the adventures we had over the years. I always pulled her leg and referred to her in front of “my boys” as Nanny Foster. She told me with a smile “I’m a grandmother, you hire a nanny!!”

Betty leaves two sons, a daughter, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Her son Seumas is carrying on Betty’s hard work continuing the Bredon line breeding working beardies, which are also having huge success in the agility ring.

I have made a number of wonderful friends through Betty and she will be dearly missed by me. She was more than a friend, she was family. God Bless.

Donna Moxon