1925 – 2014
Jack Deakin was born on the 18th July 1925 at the Tiverton Foxhound Kennels where his father was First Whipper-In to Sir Ian Heathcot Amory. Jack was the eleventh child out of twelve and with Hunt service being on both sides of the family, it would seemed fairly inevitable this would be where his life would take him. Sure enough it did, not only for him but two of his brothers, Dick who went on to hunt the Essex Union and Jim the South Tetcott. After leaving Devon the family moved to the Cumberland where Jack schooled at Aspatria before being signed up as an eighteen year old, into the Fleet Air Arm. Sailing out on the Queen Mary to New York he then made his way by train via Alabama to Trinidad where he trained as an aircraft mechanic servicing Mustangs. On returning from the War and being demobbed he decided he wanted to become a jockey. This was not however to be the case and almost immediately found himself in Hunt Service, starting as Whipper-In to Jumbo Wilkinson at the South Durham. After a couple of seasons he made his way to the Essex and Suffolk as Second Whip to Chris Parsons and it was then on to his first stint at the Newmarket and Thurlow under Charlie Field. Here he met the future Mrs Deakin and during his time there they married, before moving to the Bicester and Warden Hill where the well known disciplinarian Charlie Johnson was hunting hounds; another man who had the blood of hunt service running thick through his veins! Whilst they were at Stratton Audley Mrs Deakin took to hunting on a bicycle with her terrier Panda accompanying her on many an occasion.
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On being approached to go and whip-in to the well known amateur Huntsman of the South Pembrokeshire, David Harrison Allen, Jack decided this was a positive move to make. They stayed here for four most enjoyable seasons and during their time at Creselly their sons Tony and Barry were born. It was then off to the Belvoir and next back to the Newmarket and Thurlow as Huntsman to their highly respected Master Harvey Leader. A one season move to the Badsworth followed before Jack was offered the position of First Whipper-In and Kennel Huntsman to Bill Cressey at the Rockwood Harriers and here they spent eleven very successful seasons. Their third son Michael was born completing the family and they have many happy memories of their time there. Whether it was hunting hounds, whipping-in or showing them, Jack had a wonderful talent using a very quiet approach. This worked wonders with harriers which are prone to be somewhat over excitable! It paid off not only in the field where he had them hunting extremely well for the Major but it was also on their annual visits to Peterborough where Jack had their total undivided attention. Not only did they win a considerable number of classes over the years, but a significant amount of championships. This was entirely down to his dedication to them, and the great respect they had for him. A fine example of what we describe in the trade, as the golden thread.
During the hard winter of 1962/63 a very strange thing happened at the Rockwood Kennels. Like everything in the wild at the time, foxes were struggling to find enough food to survive. So when one morning Jack tracked a vulpine friend in the snow across the dividing wall between the Rockwood doghounds and the Rockwood bitches and then on into the flesh house, he could scarcely believe his eyes! Hunger may have been one thing on this fox’s mind, but he knew exactly what he was doing and where he was going!
Jack’s last move in Hunt Service was to the Blankney initially whipping-in to The Rt. Hon. Mr James Fitzroy (now Lord Southampton) for one season, and then hunting hounds for the next six. The straight necked foxes of Lincolnshire proved an interesting challenge for Jack. The quiet approach he had used with the Harriers paid off and he and the Blankney Hounds showed some fine sport over the ensuing years. Eventually however, the time came to retire. His sons were just at the age of enjoying motorbikes, and told me of this rather amusing story of their father. One Sunday morning they sent him off on one to see how he got on. He eventually returned back at the Kennels pushing it, telling them in no uncertain terms, that it seemed to have a different sort of horse power to what he was used to, and didn’t respond to whoa, you b…… thing! Jack’s last challenge was to set up a most successful boarding kennel on Blankney Heath. Here he would take in dogs with psychological problems from many different places with the Police and the RSPCA being just two of his good customers. The very way he had handled his hounds all along soon paid off with his new canine friends and those with the worst issues soon found themselves being calmed down and transfixed by Jack’s special way. A lifetime in Hunt Service had certainly provided him with the skills he would need in retirement and this is something of which the RSPCA should seriously take note.
Jack will long be remembered for his good humour with his laugh lasting long in the memory of his family and many others around him. It is to those closest to him, we offer our deepest sympathy.
27th April 2014