Her dear friend Jayne Conway offers this tribute to an amazing lady.
I had long been a fan of greyhound racing and remember with clarity the first time I went to Swindon to watch the dogs and hearing their feet on the sand and the clatter of the hare as it went by. Even writing this raises my adrenalin and the memory will always give me a tingle of excitement. From that first time at a dog track I was smitten.
Owning a greyhound however was never on my horizon, it wasn’t something that I gave any thought to, but I always envied the people on the podiums collecting their trophies, stroking and fussing their dogs. Owning a dog wasn’t for me though so I would just content myself with going to watch.
Moving to Gosport allowed me to continue indulging my love, with Portsmouth Greyhound Stadium being only a 15 minute drive away. Portsmouth was great, a rather tatty, down at heel track where you could lean on the rail and have sand kicked in your face as the amazing dogs flew by. The RGT notice board was by the toilets and one evening I surreptitiously took a note of the contact number and started working out how I could persuade my husband that we needed a retired greyhound. The contact for the local RGT was Liz Redpath.
It took a great deal of determination to wear my husband’s resolve down until he was nearly as enthusiastic as I was about adopting a greyhound. He was working abroad when he finally agreed and before he could change his mind I was on the phone to Liz. That was where it all really began for me.
Within a few weeks we’d adopted our first retired greyhound and after spending a few hours talking to Liz, who was also a trainer attached to Portsmouth, we bought a puppy that she found for us so we could have our own racing dog. Parting with £350 for our new dog was one of the most exciting things I’d done. But it wasn’t just buying a dog that was so wonderful, it was spending time with Liz. It’s so easy to dismiss a newcomer as a know-nothing waste of space that’s only there to pay the kennel bill but Liz was nothing like that. She took time to explain the race card properly (yes, I really was that ignorant of racing) She told me what to look for in the sprinters and the stayers, what are common injuries and how they might be treated. She explained why to look for what weight a dog is on the night of a race and check the race card to see what the weight was when it ran it’s best race. I could ask Liz anything and she would explain it was patience and kindness. She never looked on me as an idiot just because I didn’t know something, as she said, ‘We all have to start somewhere’. Of course in no time at all we’d bought a second dog!
Getting involved with Liz and the kennel was like an Aladdin’s cave to me, so many greyhounds, all beautiful and all so happy. With Liz running the Portsmouth RGT our conversations often turned to the Trust and during one of our many chats she told me how the Trust had been formed. Her mother, Molly had been a trainer and in the days of unrepentant sexism and indifference to welfare, Molly did things differently and treated every dog in her care with love and respect. Liz told me of the legion of difficulties faced by retiring greyhounds and how Molly and a few other associates were determined that things were going to change. I once asked Liz why, if it was so difficult, did her mother stay in the sport. Liz said that she knew she could leave and it would stay the same or she could stay and make damn sure it changed and change it did. When Molly retired Liz took over the licence and continued to train and continued the work of the RGT.
I knew I couldn’t be a proper kennel hand but I could be a volunteer and I threw myself into it with the enthusiasm of a teenager. Although I was only working with the retired dogs I wasn’t going to let that stop me continuing to learn things and Liz continued to be patient and kind. She was also very happy for me to be there because I built her the branch’s first website. Liz wasn’t really a techy sort of woman but she was delighted with her website. For a good few years I stayed involved with Liz and the kennel, even after Portsmouth closed and we had to move our dogs. The last night of racing at Portsmouth was bittersweet, lots of money was raised for the RGT and Liz’s last winner was one of our dogs, but Portsmouth was gone and it felt like a bereavement.
If I was thinking of buying a dog I would always consult Liz and she would ask all the relevant questions and then she’d tell me whether she thought I was being asked to part with a reasonable amount of money or not. I know that I’ve done things in racing that would have had Liz rolling her eyes and tutting at me but she always understood why I’d done those things. Like breeding a litter of puppies……………..or two and she always followed their progress. Thanks to Liz and her kindness and patience we have several greyhounds in racing kennels and a houseful of retired ones. Thanks to Liz I know what a joy it is to watch them racing and the privilege it is to own them. Thanks to Liz I have all of that but don’t have a posh house or a flash car. Thanks Liz.
Molly’s legacy in greyhound welfare as now passed along via Liz to her son Chris, his wife Sarah and their daughter. Molly would be proud I’m sure. I know Liz was.
When I saw Chris Redpath’s name come up on my phone I knew it could only be one of two things; something connected to the Retired Greyhound Trust or something to do with Liz. It was Liz, he told me that she had died peacefully in the early hours of the morning and I felt as if part of my world had gone. My life was made so much richer by having Liz in it, but the world of greyhounds was made so much richer. We have all been made poorer by her leaving us.