The late Tom Millar resided at Hamilton Street, Motherwell and was in his day one of the all time greats in the English fancy setting records that no Scottish fancier has ever come near to emulating. Indeed his success put him amongst that elite band of fanciers who have become legends amongst the connoisseurs of the most tantalising of breeds; his club show wins were phenomenal. He won the young grey cup in 1905 and 1906, the adult grey cup in 1907, 1909 and 1910, the adult tort bowl 1907 and 1908, and the Scottish members cup from 1905 – 1910, which gives us an idea of the standards set by this great fancier.
He died late 1932 or early 1933 and left 100 pounds to the NERC. On his death fanciers from both sides of the border subscribed to the purchase of the memorial trophy.
This trophy is a work of art and is one of
the most valuable in the fancy today, being
made of pure gold faceplate mounted on a
wooden shield. The artwork is beautifully
done showing a portrait of Tom Millar and
is a credit to the goldsmith who engraved
it. The value at the time of purchase was
150 guineas, today the value is greater
than the price of the average family car.
When purchased an agreement was drawn
up between the NERC and SRC that the
trophy be know as the Tom Millar Memorial
Gold Shield and to be the property of the
NERC and that it would be competed for on alternative years in Scotland and England at the SRC show and the NERC ASS respectively and awarded to the best adult English. A legal and binding agreement was signed by officials of both clubs. It was agreed that the 100 pounds left to the NERC by Tom Millar be invested, with the interest on it being used for the purchase of gold medals to be presented to the members on the safe return of the shield.
In the 1960’s and 70’s, due to a lack of funds, members were asked to look out in bric a brac shops and the like for gold medals that could be bought cheaply, and the members duly obliged.
In 1976 the Midland Counties and the YAERC chaired by Mr Ron Blow, had a proposal from Mr Len Heath and Mr Geoff Midwood to run a show at Loughborough to raise funds for the purchase of medals as the interest no longer met the cost. This show was known as the 'Gold Medal Spectacular' and considered by many to be the best show of English ever staged; managed by Mr Mick Callaghan who did an excellent job, this show raised £300 which allowed the purchase of 10 gold medals at £30 each. Today I understand the value of each medal is £140.
The shield is no longer allowed to be taken home with the winner, but is instead returned to the bank vault and the gold medal, together with a glass tankard is presented to the winner at the ASS.
Article by Julie Miller, taken from an article first published by Andrew Letheridge whose kind permission I had to use it. Thanks also to Geoff Midwood, Stewart Howson, Eric Burton, Kev Germany and Phil Shaw for their help and assistance in the research.