Royvon Dog Training Schools

Royvon : The Second 25 Years
By Darren James

Darren James with Merry, GSD
Yvonne James (middle) & Darren James (far right)
Early dog training career

Following a six month recovery, Yvonne felt Darren was responsible enough to own and care for his own dog. It was 1981 and Darren had just turned nine years of age. It was at this time that Merry, a beautiful German Shepherd, and Darren began their training journey together.

Darren knew there was a lot to learn, therefore started with what his father had taught him and set out to master his skills in every spare moment he had. He attended every dog event possible and took advantage of advice from many mentors from his parents' training circles.


His early mentors included John Harding, John & Ann Seal, Dave Powell, Des Lewis, Brian Burke and of course his best and favourite mentor, his mother Yvonne (centre of above photo), who was competing in working trials at the same time.

During these impressionable years Darren also developed the show bug (as its known in the industry) as Merry wasn't just an excellent working dog, she was also a pretty face and won many prizes in top events throughout the country.  Darren recalls the tremendous support from the show ring as well as the dog training circles:

"When people said I handled dogs just like my dad , it made me so happy - it was the best praise anybody could ever give me."

Darren is eternally grateful to all those remembering and honouring his father's memory, as he states further,

"The only way I could repay all those who helped me during this difficult time was by putting my knowledge and skills back into the dog community by helping others, not just myself.".

Yvonne's Dream

Roy and Yvonne had a dream to expand the Royvon property to include a purpose built dog training facility where dog people could meet for various dog-related activities.  Yvonne finally fulfilled their dream in 1983 when the Royvon Training Complex were completed.  In addition to two acres of pristine training and show grounds, two indoor halls were erected with 4800 total square feet of training space.  She and Roy had visited such a facility whilst judging in Australia, both noting that there was not anything like this in the United Kingdom.  In Roy's memory, they were the first to introduce the concept to their home town in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales and this unique range of dog training and boarding facilities continues to be unmatched in the UK today!.

Darren dedicated much of his early years to learning all the aspects of working trials, including both protection and training. In fact, he passed his first working trail qualification, Utility Dog at Bridgend Police Headquarters, at the age of 13, and at 14, he was ready to train dogs professionally.

Darren was now a top level dog handler of German Shepherds, campaigning successfully throughout the UK .  He judged his first German Shepherd Dog Show (with record entries) at just 16 years of age and went on to judge nationwide – an extraordinary accomplishments for someone of his age!

Darren James
Professional Dog Handler, Trainer & Judge

Royvon Survives... and Thrives

Royvon Dog Training Schools, 2000
Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales

As a result of the tragic events of the early 1980's, the business suffered and it took many years before the business finally returned to profitability again.  Although Royvon maintained its core values and shared Purpose, there were too many days when the loss was more than the family could endure.  Therefore Darren had to leave school prematurely and put his energies towards the business as bankruptcy was looming.

However, this did not prevent Darren from continuing his studies, which he accomplished on his own by working two nights per week for the following 10 years.  During this time he earned a BTEC in business followed by Nebs management, AAT, HNC (Business management) and HND (Business management).  In 2000 - 2001, he studied towards an MBA at the University of Glamorgan .


Sadly, Yvonne passed away in 1994.  Her pining for Roy had got the better of her as this was a relationship that could not survive without the strength and love of the other.  This was yet another traumatic and emotional time for Darren & Sarah, but their love for each other and a determination to make their parents proud kept them motivated to work harder than ever before. 

The James' children now owned the business and were driven to see the business a success as it once had been - Royvon Dog Training School was going to be a household name in the dog training industry!

Their Business Plan included Marketing Consultant, Tony Price, who is today an integral part of the business and its upward development.  The initial strategy was to market Royvon throughout Wales and English borders to see how far people would travel for their services.  But, it was no accident when they discovered people would travel as far as Scotland to board and train their dog. Therefore, a national campaign ensued and Royvon residential services were further defined and refined.

Royvon Dog Training Schools:  The nations first and leading specialists for residential dog training.

Royvon, once again and now under the control of third generation, Darren & Sarah, started to attract nationwide attention, winning awards and being approached by high profile clientele to train their dogs.  The South Wales school was fully booked on a regular basis with a clear path forward to the future - Royvon needed to expand the business.

Royvon Expands

Royvon Dog Training Schools, 2006
Esher, Surrey

Between the years of 2002 - 2005 Darren and his wife-to-be, Hannah searched the country for the next Royvon Dog Training School. Over 300 premises were viewed in various locations throughout the United Kingdom.

Due to the high quality standards of the South Wales school coupled with Darren’s vision for the future, the search for the new premises proved very time consuming and difficult.  Nonetheless, the hard work paid off again and the new school in Surrey was secure on Darren’s 34th birthday, 30 November 2005 .  It had everything required, including workable dog accommodations, an indoor training hall, outdoor training area, auxiliary buildings and a place for Darren & Hannah to live.  The crowning glory was its location in Surrey .  Following Darren & Hannah's " Royvon Training School " South Wales wedding marquee and grand celebrations the year prior, Hannah joined the Royvon Team as the new school's Director.  Hannah states of the experience:

"After searching the length and breadth of the UK we really couldn't have found a more superb location than Esher .  It's 15 miles from the centre of London and literally five minutes from the M25 - not to mention how beautiful and friendly the area is."

The premises in Surrey needed drastic redevelopment & refurbishment in keeping with the Royvon standards.  Therefore, a further substantial investment was necessary and the project went underway in April 2006.  The school today would not be recognisable to those who saw it in its original state just two short years ago. 

Royvon is now celebrating its 50th birthday ! The Royvon Team continues to expand and now the doors of Royvon Surrey are bursting at the seams...and of course, Darren & Sarah are thinking forward to the next Royvon Dog Training expansion.

Royvon Purpose: To enhance the quality of life for dogs and their owners.

Roy and Yvonne starting breeding and training German Shepherds in 1959 and this was the start of Royvon. We wanted our 50th anniversary to be something special that's why we are planning to introduce our new boarding concept, 'Play all Day' at our headquarters in South Wales. We are very confident that our customers will prefer our Play all Day concept to traditional boarding.

Royvon : The First 25 Years


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