THE sheepdog trialling and wider community were saddened by the loss of a beloved member.

Alan Leak, 94, who died on December 30, was born at Troutbeck, the second son of John James and Rhoda Leak and a younger brother to John and older brother to his sister Mary. Alan’s grand-parents lived at nearby Howe Farm. Only in his forties his grand-father passed away leaving his wife to manage the farm. Consequently the Leak family spent many hours at Howe Farm helping her.

Alan’s father, known as J.J. Leak, was an accomplished sheepdog trainer and handler. Through helping his grandmother and watching his father working his dogs Alan developed a keen interest in shepherding and sheepdogs. On leaving school he worked mainly as a freelance shepherd along with some dairy work.

Alan married Joyce Senior in 1967 and together they bought and moved to the Masons Arms at Strawberry Bank, Cartmel Fell, along with Joyce’s two sons Philip and David. He ran the pub while Joyce looked after the catering and accommodation side of things. However, Alan still managed to find time to do some shepherding.

Alan and Joyce sold the Masons Arms and moved to Gaisgill Farm in 1978. Joyce, who had worked all her life in hospitality ran a bed and breakfast business there. Alan continued shepherding, but spent more time training dogs both for himself and for other people. He also coached people on how to train their own dogs. In addition Alan had more time to judge trials both at home and abroad. He and Joyce travelled to America where he judged trials run by the American Border Collie Association.

Leaving the Masons Arms also gave Alan more time to pursue his love of competing in the sheepdog trials. Between 1984 and 2002 he qualified at the English National Sheepdog Trials to represent his country at the International Sheepdog Trials on ten occasions. Twice he was the runner up and in 1989 he made the English team with a second dog. At the International four times he qualified to go through to the Supreme Championship where his highest placing was in 1989 when he came fifth.

Alan was well liked and respected, he was pleasant and friendly with everyone he met and will be sadly missed. His wish was to be buried in the graveyard at Jesus Church, Troutbeck, which is where his funeral will take place on Monday January 24 at midday.