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Golcar Farm has always been a working farm, it is where I was born and I have spent many happy hours as a child wandering around the farm and, in later years, over the moors but never without my collies. I began training them for sheepwork at an early age and always loved the natural communication needed to create a working partnership.I have always been involved in rescue, from bringing stray dogs home when I was a child to rehabilitating and training problem dogs in later years that needed rehoming. Married, with two children, and living in Nottinghamshire I joined forces with Hazel Monk, who started the first official Border Collie Rescue, by helping to rehabilitate the problem and aggressive dogs that she was taking in. When my husband died I started my own business, originally the Border Collie & Sheepdog Training Centre the name was changed to Mainline Border Collie Centre in honour of my late great Meg (ISDS 115981). She started it all, and was the matriarch of my team of family dogs.In her time Meg shepherded a flock of over a thousand sheep, we shared nine years of National sheepdog trialling and she took me to the dizzy heights of International honour when we competed in the English Team at the International Sheepdog Trials in 1983. We were part of that winning team and also brought home a trophy for an individual accolade.

Throughout it all Meg slept on my bed, travelled with me wherever I went and was one of my children’s closest friends. But she was not an easy dog to train, she taught me the value of patience and she also encouraged me to swear! She was tireless and many a judge sat in fear of being trampled by stampeding sheep when a young Meg thought the word ‘stop’ meant ‘go faster’. Training her was like a roller coaster ride but worth every minute of it and the lessons she taught me will stay with me for ever.

Meg came to me at only four weeks old, at her peak she was one of the top trialling dogs in the UK and I was offered an extremely large sum of money for her to be exported to the USA. But you can’t put a price on loyalty and my Meg and I were not to be parted!

She died at home with me in 1992 and her legacy lives on in the wonderful family she has left me.

Her great grandson Pip appeared on many television programmes including Peak Practice and the rest of the team have had their share of the limelight, including Hope in Dogs with Jobs.

Skye was Meg’s granddaughter and like Meg she spent her working life helping me, working with me and sharing the ups and downs of life, helping me to train and rehabilitate many problem dogs and always amusing people with her look of complete disdain whenever I gave her a command. Skye was the one who, with her determination to make wayward dogs behave, helped Herbie the Beardie get his act together for BBC2’s Natural World programme the Bloodhound and the Beardie.

We lived in Nottinghamshire for twenty years but I moved back to run the family farm in the mid 1990’s.

During the Foot and Mouth year we were hit very hard and spent almost a whole year with no income whatsoever but many were hit harder. That year brought sadness but it also brought nature to life, with the moors empty of human footfall the wildlife knew no fear and with no work there was time on hand to sit, observe and enjoy. Out of the sadness I could enjoy the fact that the natural cinema all around us costs nothing and it doesn’t stop for advertisements!

My daughter Vicki, lives next door and runs the farm. When not looking after the cows, sheep, goats and hens she runs the Sheepdog Experience event and does behavioural consultations.

We have progressed from having makeshift kennels to a nice block of kennels with individual runs; from working in all weathers to having an indoor training facility; from homebred family dogs to our extended family of rescues and none of it would have been possible without my team of dedicated, loyal, hard working collies and the support of my family, not to forget my insane friends.

Life never stands still at Golcar Farm and in 2007, with a kennel full of rescue collies I became a founder Trustee of the Freedom of Spirit Trust for Border Collies (FOSTBC) a registered charity working for the benefit of Border Collies covering rescue, sanctuary and rehabilitation.

Barbara Sykes