East Anglian Working Newfoundlands

Dog Badge EAWN



Thanks to everyone that attended Mepal this year to make it so special


A Report copied from pheonix newfoundlands website


Phoenix were well represented at Mepal this year and once again it was an amazing weekend. Our thanks go to EAWN and TNS for a superb event that I’m sure we will all be attending for many years!


The families attending were: Keith & Georgia Leybourne and family, Jo & Emily McKay, Mo Lord, Linda MacKillican & Dave Todd, Kev Mercer & Bek MacKillican and family, Lisa & Adie Phillimore and family, Kim & Tim Osmond and Kevin & Gemma Hunt and family.


The group would also like to thank some of its own members! Especially Jo, Emily and Mo for a superb wedding street party. We had such a great time, it was excellent, thank you so much.


Thanks to Jo for writing the report below!


This year we arrived early on Thursday 28th April, as the 29th April was a public holiday to celebrate the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton.


We arrived on Thursday afternoon to find Greg Roffe (President of EAWN still cutting the grass).  Kev and Dave were already in situ.   Fighting against the wind – no matter how hot and sunny it is always windy at MEPAL! – we managed to get the caravan set up.


Friday and Royal wedding day – Campers awoke to find bunting adorning the Phoenix area! Kev had been set the challenge of ensuring the event could be viewed on the TV.  Keith, Georgia and entourage arrived early in the morning and impressed us all with the speed of getting the caravan and awning set up.  The wedding was viewed by many popping in and out of the awning commenting on the dresses etc.  Following ‘the kiss’ a street party with cucumber sandwiches, pork pies and cup cakes – followed by wedding cake and Pimms were shared!


Saturday and the MEPAL weekend started with a call to all campers to attend the main arena with their dogs – we were then all involved with a multi group land display! It was amazing to see so many dogs in one area at one time without a single hiccup. (maybe a few good sniffs!)  We were joined on the Saturday by some of our new members Lisa, Adie, Ashley & Emily and Kim & Tim with puppy Elvis, who very bravely camped in the true sense in tents. Then on to the swimming….


The sun shone for the entire day and everyone thoroughly enjoyed their 25 minute slot with each dog. For some of our dogs it was there first time swimming at Mepal and wow did they achieve a lot. For others seasoned to Mepal great things were refined!  EAWN provided an excellent swimming display in the afternoon and I am sure I am not alone in wishing my dogs could do what they do!


An early evening stroll for the Phoenix group around the lake proved exciting for H from the Leybourne family.


Saturday night at MEPAL is traditionally a lively evening.  This year the inclusion of Karaoke was a real ice breaker! Renditions of  Sunny and Cher (aka Bek and Keith) should probably not be mentioned, however Keith singing ‘When the going gets tough’ followed by the ‘girls’ with ‘Its raining men’ will be remembered for years to come!

Sunday … a few early swimming slots were missed by people who were the worse for wear from Saturday evening!  However the sun was shining and EAWN and the majority of campers managed a trip to the lake for a refreshing swim. Kevin, Gemma and Liam came up for the day with Remy. This was their first swimming experience and they went home with Liam (7) looking for his own wetsuit on ebay!


During the weekend Good Citizens tests were taken – always challenging in a camping situation with water and food smells nearby!! The group had a few passes, but sure Mo was hindered by her stand in handlers (Keith & Dave)!!!!!


Sunday afternoon was completed by EAWN showing their prowess at land display – to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller”! (No teeth were allowed!!)


Another stroll around the lake for Phoenix – will always be remembered for Emily shouting ‘Mama …….’ As Ruby dragged her after a bunny – the bunny being one side of the path and the incredibly tempting lake on the other side – she didn’t dare let go of the lead!


Monday was time to pack up, say goodbye and leave MEPAL for another year.  Unless you are a Leybourne which means you are up, decamped and left before anyone else is up!!!  The rest of us had a gentle morning, battled the wind , decamped and left around midday! (speak for yourself Jo! We were the last to leave again! 3pm).


Thanks to all at EAWN for a fabulous weekend and rest assured Phoenix will be back next year.




This year, for the first time, EAWN was invited to put on a water display during the interval between the heats and the final races.

We arrived, on a very hot day, to find the organisers had provided space in a lovely shaded area under the trees for us, just a few yards from where we would be doing the display.

A variety of rafts were being assembled nearby, some quite basic and some very hi tech. One arrived on the top of a car, made up entirely of lemonade bottles (empty of course!), all strapped together.   We do not believe any one counted how many rafts were entered, probably in the region of 20 to 25.  

Our display took place around 3 p.m.  An area had been fenced in, next to the lake, and all the dogs were tethered waiting their turn in the water.  The excitement is always immense – dogs that never bark at home are in full throttle – WE are going in the water!!  As a Club we believe that any dog who trains regularly, regardless of ability, should be included in the display, this means that each dog usually only has one slot in the water.  Unfortunately THEY think they should have more and it is not unusual to find that some dogs are reluctant to return to their tether!

We started the display with Noosa, Orla and Holly.  Their job was to swim out and rescue three drowning ladies!  Holly, four years old, who has only just been given a new home by Kim and Andy, made a spectacular leap from the bank into the water for her swim out. Next we had Harper, swimming out to rescue a person hidden behind the boat and then Inca who swam out to the boat towing it back to shore with a rope held in her mouth.   Tia, who has a poorly foot and does not always get the chance to take part because sand would irritate it, swam out and returned to shore holding the drowner’s hand in her mouth whilst at thesame time Bronwyn swam out towing a life ring to bring her drowner to shore.

Jumping from the boat to people drowning was next.  As our commentator said this is very often a crowd favourite.  Lucie went first, not one of her better jumps perhaps – she does like to go out from a speeding boat and there was not the space to get speed up.  Caira took a fraction longer to decide to go, but made a very good jump. Next, Barney, now 10 years old, took a life ring out, left it with the first drowner, went on to the second and went back to pick up the ring and towed both back to shore.

Another crowd favourite is the rescue of two people who are drowning behind a gang of people playing ball.  Troy and Miga were just the dogs for this – however much splashing is made they just plough through.  Final exercise was made by the biggest boy in the group -  Monty, weighing in at about 80 kilos.  He ‘rescued’ all the people in wet suits, towing them back to shore in V formation.  This was easy for him, he has towed 27 people in a row!!

We believe a very successful display.  Our thanks must go to the organisers of the event, firstly for asking us and then making us feel so welcome.  


Brenda Peck


Needham Market Lakes- My first display by Holly...


I have only lived with my 'new' Mum & Dad & Troy-Boy a few weeks.....


I had a little lay in, a bite of brekkie, jumped into the back of my Van with Troy-Boy & off we went....

Turned up at Needham Market Lake!!! i gathered we were going, for a swim - little did i know i was going to take part in my first public water display - Mmmmm.....should i be nervous???? My Mum (Kim) had my favourite rope toy, Dad (Andy) had taken me to the waters edge - a MASSIVE crowd had gathered, i could see Orla in the water ready to go on my right & Noosa on my left, our Mums ALL shouted 'HELP', Orla was off & so was Noosa, i was sooooo excited and i must not let them down!!!  i could hear my Mum shouting, Dad let me off & i jumped into the water (Sorry, Noosa i think i put you off!!) The crowd really clapped & cheered!!! Us three Brown Babes started off the whole display!!.

It was Inca's first display to she did a boat pull!!! Tia was in her first water display for four years, she had to do a hand rescue to Emma - WOW!!!! Lucie & Caira did super boat jumps, i could hear the crowd clap & cheer!!!

The rest of the EAWN Newfies that took part where fabulous...hiddens, take outs & topped off with Monty's Multi!!!

I really had a BRILLIANT day.

I wonder if i'll be in the next display with my Brown-Babes at my side.......????




Another sunny day when the Group gathered to take part in the carnival. We were to provide both land and water displays and at 11 a.m. the Mayor kindly introduced us to the waiting crowd and gave details of the dogs taking part in the demo.  A simple routine which went well and then the children were invited to join us .At the end of the display the children had learned the name and age of ‘their’ dog and were presented with a souvenir rosette.  

In the afternoon we were in the water.  Just one problem at the given time the water was rather scarce!  We therefore had to delay the start and re-arrange the exercises but were pleased with the overall result.  By the time we were finished the tide was arriving very fast and it was a rush to clear the dogs and equipment from the beach before we were all completely swamped!



We were blessed with a nice sunny day for our visit to Wells and a large crowd gathered on the quayside to watch the dogs perform a series of water rescue techniques, from straight forward ‘rescue of a drowning stranger’ to the more complex ‘hidden rescue’, jumps and finishing with one dog pulling in a line of ‘drowning people’.

A bucket collection in aid of the RNLI totalled £352.


CROMER CARNIVAL    -  August 2011

Sunday     - On a lovely sunny day, with favourable conditions and a nice calm sea,  we were pleased to be able to entertain a very large crowd.   Working at low tide it meant that everyone had to brave the stones, dry sand and wet sand to have a good view and despite the slight delay in starting in order that we could provide a further PA system so that all could hear it was lovely to have such an appreciative audience.

A good display,  with the dogs working well.  

Tuesday    -   Family day on the carnival field.    EAWN had once again been invited to take part in this day and were pleased to undertake two land displays and invite children into the ring to work with the dogs.  All children taking part received a souvenir rosette.

Wednesday evening   -   We were pleased to walk in the carnival procession around the town. Although quite a long walk it never seems too far because of the enjoyment given to so many people on the route.  A few children are frightened at the size of the dogs but most  want to have a pat and cuddle (and put their money into the buckets carried by members!).   Many call out that they saw the dogs working on the beach.   Another really lovely evening – finishing, as usual, with the Club letting two lanterns off over the sea in memory of the two dogs we have lost during the last year



Having been unable to attend the RNLI day in August, due to another commitment, we were pleased to return to Hemsby for the Herring Festival.

Arriving quite early we were told our display in the water would take place at 11.30 a.m so we immediately rushed to set up our double sized gazebo (unfortunately not a push up one!) and put out our tombola prizes.   All ready, with the boats down at the water and ‘enclosure’ set up for the dogs, handlers quickly changed into their wet suits and we were only a couple of minutes behind time starting the display.  (The delay being caused by our President sauntering down the beach with his dogs!).

Another good display undertaken under very difficult conditions – the tide still running quite fast and it was thought that some dogs and handlers might end up in Gt. Yarmouth.  Anyway everyone worked hard and we had no losses!  

After clearing up and changing we were treated to a lovely herring feast – courtesy of the Organisers.



GILLIAN’S DAY   -     11th September 2011

In case it has not previously been explained Gillian’s Day is the one competition that East Anglian Working Newfoundlands take part in each year.  Organised by the Club it is held in memory of Gillian Hardcastle who died of cancer in 1997.  It had always been her wish to hold such an event.


There are three compulsory water exercises held in the morning with one judge.  At the same time each dog does a ‘carting’ course and does some obedience/control work with another judge.  In the afternoon the judges combine and each dog is given a three minute slot in the water   ‘to impress the judges’.  


We were very lucky with the weather this year,  sunny  although very windy with just a few spots of rain.  All the dogs worked very well, with some surprises as usual, and the whole day was held in a lovely atmosphere with all swimmers in the water doing the best to help each other and all the dogs. This year our more  ‘mature’ dogs featured heavily in the winning stakes.


MEPAL 2012  We a delighted to say that we have the french from TNS to help EAWN over the weekend, the french love to work with english dogs and have always supported us over many years and we are pleased they are joining us again this year

This is a great weekend for any Newfoundland dog owner to work in the water as well as carting, obedience and meeting other Newfoundland owners


There is camping on site as well as our usual get togerther on saturday night

Please download the booking form and send it to lynda before the closing date to be sure of a place, hope to see you there for a great weekend


Entrys close for this event on 30th April 2012 so dont delay and send your form


If you have any question please email Greg or Lynda under contacts



Due to circumstances beyond our control we have had to move date and  venue to 12th & 13th May 2012 and to Home Farm Baston PE6 9PU.

We are sorry for any inconvience caused but your pleasure and safety is our most important aim

We hope you will still be able to join us for this 24th Mepal and have added some photos below of the old lake and the new lakes and  caravan park  of the new venue


YEAR 2007


May 27th   Members presented a cheque for £1,000 to the Caister Lifeboat.  This was part of the money collected at the annual Christmas tree pull at Elveden forest.  £2,000 had already been handed over to the East Anglian Air Ambulance and £1,000 to the Hemsby Lifeboat.


5th August  Water display in aid of the Caister Lifeboat

A fine and sunny day at Caister enabled Club members and dogs put on a very pleasing water demonstration.  A variety of exercises were carried out - to the delight of a large crowd - and we were very happy to show people what the dogs can do.


12th August  This week, once again,  we attended Hemsby Lifeboat day and with favourable weather conditions members and dogs were able to get into the water and put on a marvellous display for the crowd.   We have been going to the Hemsby Lifeboat day for somewhere around 15 years or so and are always made so welcome it is worth the very long journey several of our members have to undertake to be there.


25th August  Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk.  One of our favourite display venues.  We first went to Wells in 1995 and have attended each year since then.  The crowd watch from the quayside and the dogs are across the water on the marshes.  As usual timing has to be perfect as working on an incoming or outgoing tide is not recommended!  We must have got it right so far as we have not lost anyone out to sea.  Once again many exercises are carried out, working at Wells is similar to being on a lake and it is possible to do more complex things.  We have ’take outs’, towing boats in and out, dogs jumping, puppy swims, races, but we always finish with a ‘multi’.  This is one, or two dogs, pulling a line of people to shore.  This year, one of the most popular exercises was when a crowd of people were playing ball in the water, with a drowning person floating in the water on the other side of them.  A dog was sent and ignored all the people and ploughed through them all to make his rescue.  Well done Troy.  

Unfortunately this year we were let down on our PA system, consequently money collected was down, but even so Wells Lifeboat benefited by about £400.


2nd September  We returned to Hemsby for the Herring Festival.  Once again, with favourable weather we entertained a large crowd with a very good water display.  We also ran a tombola stall on the beach - thank you to all the kind people who bought tickets.


8th and 9th September  Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival

A very busy weekend for all Club members who attended, together with all the dogs who worked so hard over the two days.  We managed to put on two water displays, with just a few of the dogs - space being at a premium on the pontoon!!  The water displays in the river at Gt Yarmouth are always quite difficult to time, luckily for all concerned we have a very competent boat handler in Ian, who is entrusted implicitly by all taking part.  A very creditable performance by all, in very difficult conditions this year

The two land displays were slightly different this year as we invited children from the crowd to come into the arena with us to take part and help handle the dogs .  This was a very popular decision - all children were asked to give their name and were told they would be asked the name and age of the dog they were handling at the end of the display.  They were all presented with a red rosette stating they ‘had been newf’d’.

Members and dogs were kept very busy all the weekend, staffing a tombola and craft stall and answering the very many questions that were asked by a very interested crowd.


16th September  We welcomed Rebecca Pearson from Country Life, and Martin, photographer, to the Lake.  Rebecca swam with the dogs and has said that it was the most fun she had ever had doing an article.  We are not sure when this will be published - watch our Web site.




Thanks to everyone for there support

If you haven't yet been on the Hounds for Heroes web site, please take a look, excellent charity. EAWN have recently sent them a cheque for £1,250 (money collected at Elveden, £1,250 also sent to Hemsby Lifeboat & £2,500 to East Anglian Air Ambulance.)


                                                     MEPAL 2010


                                             AN EXCELLENT WEEKEND,


    HUGE THANKS TO TNS - Alain, Christian, Stephane,                                  Stephane, Va Va, Marc, Jean Claude   and Isabelle




EAWN MEMBERS - working their socks off to make this event possible





An article we did for country life magazine


Newfoundland dogs to the rescue

Home Countryside Country Pursuits Newfoundland dogs to the rescue

 Being dragged around a cold lake by a big, hairy dog was possibly the most entertaining Sunday Rebecca Pearson has ever had


Tuesday, 18 December 2007


Rebecca Pearson



Meet Monty. He's 2 1/2 years old and weighs about 13 stone. He's just been let out of a cage in the back of a van, and now he's barking non-stop, straining against the huge stake and hefty chain that are preventing him from leaping into the nearby lake. Monty is one of the giant breeds of dog: he's a Newfoundland (Newfie), so all he wants to do is swim.


I found Monty at Mepal Airfield lake in Cambridgeshire on a sunny Sunday, where he is one of 28 Newfies. They're here (with their owners) for the weekly meeting of the East Anglian Working Newfoundlands (EAWN) club. It's an awesome sight. Females weigh about 10 stone, and males 10 to 12 stone - although when you take into account their long, silky outer fur, they look a lot bigger than even their weight would suggest. They look like giant teddy bears, and have a disposition to suit. What makes them even more special is their talent in the water, which is what EAWN is all about.


The club, which formed in 1989, meets from April to October to train the dogs in water rescue, using ropes, boats and lifejackets. The Newfies aren't expected or employed to use these skills; the club's objective is just to preserve the Newfie's natural talents, and it puts on regular displays for charity.


It's also highly regarded internationally: in Paris last year, EAWN became the first UK club to have displayed at the European International Working Newfoundland event, which has been running for 25 years. At Christmas, EAWN heads to Elveden, where the dogs cart customers' Christmas trees back to their cars in exchange for a charitable donation.


Today, it's all about the water, and I'm the volunteer who needs rescuing. I've donned a dry-suit and slipped into the water. First, 3 1/2-year-old Nelson is sent to fetch me in a simple rescue. I bang my right arm on the water, shout 'Help!', and Nelson swims to my right side, then round the back of me, so that I can grab his bottom. He then heads to shore with me in tow. Easy, considering that the club record is apparently one dog towing 22 people.


Other exercises involve 12 1/2-stone, six-year-old Bosun leaping out of the boat to save me (keeping my hair dry was a futile plan); Nelson towing the boat that I'm in; and three-year-old Dusty dragging me in by gripping in her mouth the lifejacket that I'm wearing. (The sight of her teddy-bear head bobbing towards me in the water is one of the highlights of the day.) Later, Dusty and eight-year-old Buffy grip each of my wrists to push me back to shore. I've been warned that Dusty's grip is 'firm' and, indeed, I can feel the rock-cracking power of her jaw. Not that it hurts - she's far too careful for that.


Sheer power is just one of the special advantages a Newfie has. They also have webbed feet, with thick, sturdy skin hidden in the fur between their toes. This, in turn, helps them to swim breaststroke, which is much more effective than the doggy paddle. Finally, they have two layers of fur: an oily undercoat that keeps their skin completely protected from the water, and an outer coat to trap air, help them float, and keep them warm.


Sadly, Newfies aren't perfect, and, as the President of EAWN explains, they can sink if they end up vertically in the water; they can only swim horizontally or at 45degrees. They also come with a life expectancy of just 10 years. Thirteen-year-old Brancaster, who has sadly passed away since my day at Mepal, was the oldest dog at EAWN and had  his white-and-black coat shaved off to save him carrying the weight. He had almost entirely lost his bark and could barely move on land, requiring the help of his owners and some ropes. It's heartbreaking, but, once Brancaster was in the water, he was like a puppy. He will be missed.


'They change your life for the better,' says EAWN member Rosemary Young, who has owned Newfies for 29 years, 'but they should come with an addiction warning.' Indeed, judging by the Newfie jewellery I'm shown, a personalised Newfie numberplate, and the sheer passion of the EAWN club members, I can see what she means.


As I head off, smelling slightly of wet dog, with my 'I've been Newf'd' rosette, I realise just how much I want one.