The club was started in 1985 by a dedicated team of dog trainers. One evening in a Cornish working man's club about half a dozen keen men and women agreed to apply to the Kennel Club to form a working gundog club. Mike and Gwen Knox were a tremendous help at the time, traveling several times from North Devon, to guide us through the procedure.
The corner stones of the CFTS, at this time, were Jim Lee and Clive Kent, two quiet handlers who trained both spaniels and retrievers but also gave freely of their time to help others achieve a good standard of dog for all types of shooting. They played a very active role for several years with Jim as Chairman and Clive as Working Test Secretary but both taking training classes all over Cornwall.
Without Jim and Clive there would probably never have been a field trial society in Cornwall. However officers and committee members come and go, some stay longer than others, some are more active than others but they all have one goal in common, to build the Club from strength to strength.
Tests were held for a few years and these were often over-subscribed, as there always seemed to be a never-ending supply of dogs and handlers to run in these summer events. Based on this success and with guidance from Rupert Hill an application to hold novice trials, for both spaniels and retrievers, was sent to the Kennel Club. The Club was granted field trial status for both spaniels and retrievers and a new era began.
The first Novice AV Spaniel Stake was held in 1987 at Caerhays Castle Estate by kind permission of Mr J F Williams who today still hosts both spaniel and retriever trials. He and his team go to great lengths to make sure the trials are always a success. The first stake was judged by Jack Davey and Graham Mulligan and was won by John Burgoyne with a bitch called Jessica of Trevale, which later qualified for the 1988 Championship at Perth.
The first All Aged Spaniel Stake was held at Tregothanon Estate and was won by Bob Downing with a bitch named Misty Tamar. Viscount Falmouth kindly hosted this trial and his keeper, Gary Price, was most helpful in making sure the day ran smoothly with plenty of birds and guns that obliged every dog with retrieves.
Mike Durrant and then Dick Downing worked hard as Field Trial Secretaries to further this success with a view to gaining open status for the club. This was granted in 1994 again with help from Rupert Hill.
The first Open Spaniel Stake was held at Trewithen, the keeper, Ponto, was over the moon with the standard of dog work and helped us enormously to achieve a perfect day.
Without the generosity of the land owners and the support of their keepers and staff, these trials would never happen. Without the kindness of the judges who travel hundreds of miles giving up their day and the chance to run their own dogs, to them we must be grateful. Also the gun's who pay for the day, whether it is top prize for a driven day or perhaps a not quite so expensive Spaniel day they all pay sometimes big money so we can enjoy our sport. The very least the club all the competitors can do is to thank all these people for their generosity.
We have held trials all over Cornwall most of the ground is covered with a mixture of light cover, bracken and brambles. Whatever breed of dog you run you can show it off in either of the above ground. To witness a novice handler winning their first trial is a joy to behold especially if they are local to the area and it encourages them to enter stakes many miles away, which again puts Cornwall on the map.
Todays' membership is steadily increasing, currently around 460 members, and the club now holds four trials for each retrievers and spaniels includiong a noivice cocker stake. Tests are held every summer both Novice and Open and Inter Club which adds to the local bantering.
Looking back to the very beginning even before the Club was formed the founder members could have only dreamt of what would be over 25 years on. Yes it does matter, a big thank you to all who have helped it happen, a big thank you to all who have helped the CFTS to be what it is today, a brilliant and successful gundog club.