Royvon Dog Training Schools

Royvon : The First 25 Years
By Darren James

Roy James, the Founder of Royvon, owned & bred dogs since he was 10 years old. Roy and his father Will began breeding German Shepherds in 1947, a passion that continued to blossom throughout his life and ultimately became his career.

In 1958, after completing his national service in the Welsh Guards, Roy met his future wife and co-founder of Royvon, Yvonne. Yvonne also had an immense love for dogs and they both toured throughout the United Kingdom visiting dog rallies and shows accompanied by both sets of parents, Will & Maggie and Dilys & Vic, all of whom were deeply immersed in the newly emerging dog industry.

Roy James, Founder of Royvon
Roy James

 

Roy & Yvonne James
Roy & Yvonne James

Royvon Boarding Kennels was established in 1959 by Roy, Yvonne, Dilys and Vic. They built the business in Pen-y-yard overlooking the Merthyr Tydfil Valley, their hometown. The original site was a remote half acre with plenty of potential for expansion as their dreams were destined for bigger things.

Royvon's main services during these early years were dog boarding and dog grooming. Although Roy had been training his own dogs since the age of 10, he fully intended to further his knowledge and skills and integrate dog training as part of the bushiness, and it wasn't long before this rare and highly valued service was included in Royvon's renown reputation.

 

At the time security training was more popular than just obedience training and Royvon became one of the main suppliers for security dogs throughout the country.  Roy was so successful that his close friend, then head of South Wales Police Dog sector (later to run the Hong Kong Police Dog sector), would send his police dog handlers to Royvon for Roy’s expert training.

Additionally, Roy and Yvonne’s hobby was competing nationwide with their Royvon German Shepherds and their successes were growing at an extremely fast pace.  Their 1st champion was in 1964 with many others to follow.   Their greatest accolade was Royvon’s Red Rum who had the record for the most challenge certificates - 3 are required for a championship status, and he had 59!  Royvon dogs were also in worldwide demand for their champion bloodline German Shepherds.   Their progeny became International champions in Japan, Australia and South Africa. 


The Royvon Team

 

Their success in showing resulted in offers from around the world for them to visit and judge at the top shows for that country. Roy & Yvonne accepted appointments in Australia, Trinidad, Japan, South Africa and USA.  They also had prestigious appointments as secretary, chairman and later honorary life members of  the German Shepherd Dog Club of Wales.

Later, Yvonne was invited to judge in Crufts, the oldest and greatest dog show in the world.  Yvonne would talk about her experiences in London's Earls Court, 1985 as the highest honour of her career.

After the first 10 years in business, Royvon was grooming up to 40 dogs per day and their boarding facilities required bookings months in advance.  The training was equally if not more successful, which enabled Roy to open yet another branch to the business, "Royvon’ Security Services", providing dog and handler security services for the South and West Wales.  The security company employed up to 30 personnel at any one time, all of whom had Royvon trained dogs and were themselves trained by Royvon.  All Royvon’s services had the same core values, which centred on providing very high standards of care for dogs and their owners. a value that is still reflected in Royvon's Purpose today:  To enhance the quality of life for dogs and their owners.

Sarah & Darren James with Red Rum
Sarah & Darren James with Red Rum

As a result of these successes, Yvonne was able to take a back seat in her role and concentrate on starting a family, yet another dream for Roy and Yvonne. Darren was born in 1971 and Sarah in 1975. Darren's and Sarah's earliest memories were all based around the world of dogs and they were delighted to share the same love for dogs as their parents and grandparents. Roy and Yvonne's work life, social life (dog shows) and family life all centred on their passion for dogs. Most weekends were spent travelling the length and breadth of the country presenting their German Shepherds for competition in both shows and working trials.

During his younger years Darren would spend each day after school, weekends (provided he was not at a dog show) and all school holidays helping the teams or shadowing his father. Following is a quote from the 1974 - 1979 Kennel Manager, Mrs. Beverly Harry:

"You would always know where to find Darren, he would come home from school and scour the facilities for all the new dogs that had come in that day.  He wanted to befriend them all and that he did.  Although it was obvious where his natural abilities came from being Roy & Yvonne’s son, he always amazed the customers with his wondrous ways with dogs."

 

To think that in the early years the four partners would run the business outside of their day jobs, which were 8 hour shifts in a factory.  It was the shift patterns that enabled at least one of them to be at the business site at all times.  Dilys' responsibility was collecting dogs for grooming and returning them home again, while Roy, Yvonne and Vic cared for all the dogs on site.  The grooming dogs required bathing and clips and the boarding dogs required feeding and walking.  After their long days, the four would eventually meet in Al’s café at 10:00pm to have a bite to eat before heading off to bed to repeat the whole process the next day. Obviously this could not be sustained, but as the business grew they were able to gradually leave their day jobs and work full time for the family business.  The half acre soon became five acres with further kennels purposely built for happy Royvon dogs.

Darren remembers the stories and remained forever committed to not only continuing, but building on the successes that his parents had started.  Sarah also aspired to follow in her Mother’s footsteps on the grooming side of the business, but as a mere five year old, her career was to begin selling sweets to the customers at the top of the drive with her life-long friend Suzanne.

The business continued to grow from strength to strength until 23 May 1981 with a tragedy that would change the families' lives forever.  After competing at the Royal Highland Showground in Edinburgh, the group was travelling back home to Wales when their vehicle was involved in a fatal accident.  All passengers were seriously injured, with the biggest heartache of all being the loss of the beloved Roy James.  The news reported:

"Hundreds of people, both local and from various parts of the country, gathered at Royvon Kennels, Incline Top to pay their respects to a man who had reached the top in his location in life. There is one word which runs through it all and it is a word which is rarely used - dedication.  We are told that the business started 22 years ago with one dog.  That is a lesson to us all."

Darren, who was only nine years old, broke both his legs in two places and was left resident in traction at Carlisle Hospital for over seven weeks, unable to attend the funeral or grieve with the rest of his family.  In fact, the only positive memory Darren has of the time was the constant stream of "doggy people" that visited him daily in hospital.  They were either fellow show enthusiasts or one of a endless list of people who knew and respected Roy as a Dog Breeder, Exhibitor, Trainer and Businessman.  Many of these people had never even met Roy, but were there to pay tribute and express their admiration.  Darren states that it made him so proud to hear how people held his father in such high regard that he became more determined than ever to be just like him for the family and for Royvon..

Unfortunately the end of this first 25 years of Royvon was very grim.  The Royvon spirit had been crushed with a key member lost and hearts broken.

Royvon : The Second 25 Years

 

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