English Springer Spaniel Club

Sarah Willett

Tribute to Sarah Willett (nee Corbett)

01/11/1987 – 17/6/2024

Sarah passed away on Monday 17th June following complications after surgery. She was young, vibrant, always happy and ready with a hug and a smile no matter what. Sarah simply loved life and to most of us, we knew her through the dog world. She was very much part of the future of our sport and as co-owner of one of the top English Springer Spaniel kennels ‘Trimere’, she was also an extremely accomplished breeder, handler and judge in her own right.

Her first success in her own name was with Roxy, i.e. Show Champion Trimere Tigra. Bred by Ann but owned by Sarah. This was, as she described, her “starter” ESS and what a team Sarah and Roxy turned out to be, winning 30CCs, many with BOB, and General Championship Best In Show wins as well. But most of all Roxy was the apple of Sarah’s eye, and she loved her. Roxy lived her days out relaxing on Sarah’s sofa and we feel sure she’ll be waiting for her, with her little tail wagging as she runs to meet Sarah.

Lately, Sarah had mainly been the one in the ring with most of the ESS in her name, with her mum Ann taking a back seat and doing the prep. The achievements of the Trimere kennel continued with Sarah at the helm, making up multiple champions and having huge success in the ring. She was as gracious when she lost as when she won, and always gave a hug before competing for BOB, a rare quality these days.

When Sarah wasn’t in the ring, she enjoyed nothing more than judging her beautiful breed and had awarded CCs in ESS in the UK twice, at Welsh KC in 2018 and Birmingham City in 2022. Her most recent judging appointment was on 2/6/2024 in Finland at the Annual Springer Spaniel Main Specialty Show with a total of 158 dogs entered. Sarah was judging the bitches and from what Ann has said, they had a wonderful time, and she enjoyed every minute of her day’s judging.

Sarah was more than dogs though and Ann wanted to make sure that we all remember every part of her life because dogs was just one small part of it. Sarah adored her family. She was a loving wife to Richard, and a devoted Mum to Sophie (10) and George (3). She was also stepmum to Richard’s two daughters Stevie and Adi and she loved them no differently than if they were her own.

Those of us who knew Sarah, also knew that her relationship with Ann was more than daughter and mum. They were the very best of friends and whilst they could have some humdinger rows occasionally, they were as close as could be. A beautiful relationship that was so obvious to see. She was also a devoted sister to Sian, Sam and Luke as well as aunt to her nieces Megan and Ashley.

We know that Sarah loved children, especially her own daughter and son and her two stepdaughters, but she also worked with children every day. Sarah had studied and was finally doing her dream job as a classroom assistant, and we are positive that those children in her classrooms were as devoted to “Mrs Willett” as she was to them.

Sarah’s passing leaves behind a huge void in life that currently doesn’t seem possible to fill. Life for all her loved ones is changed forever. Life for those who knew her will not be the same. But in one final selfless act, in true Sarah fashion, she was thinking of others. Ann has informed us that Sarah donated her organs and her decision to do that has saved a total of 6 lives. That was the character of Sarah, never one to walk away when she could help somebody else.

RIP Sarah.

Sarah Willett

11 responses

  1. RIP Sarah, what a huge void your passing has left. Words simply cannot express the loss to family and friends, everyone whose life you touched benefited from knowing you. Your vibrant love for life was infectious, you had the most wonderful way of making any one you met feel special, it was always a pleasure to meet up with you at shows and life will never be quite the same without you there.

  2. Like many of us, I’ve been in English Springers for so many years and I’ve had the privilege of seeing Sarah grow from a toddler to a typical fun-loving young girl, and then into a mature and lovely woman who was so kind and caring. Her children were the apple of her eye as was her husband and the whole family.
    She was always full of energy and so enthusiastic about showing.In the show ring she came in like a breath of fresh air, always smartly dressed and the dogs presented and shown beautifully. It was obvious they loved her as much as she loved them.
    You will be greatly missed Sarah and leave a huge gap in every area of your life which was taken from you far too soon. Rest in Peace

  3. Finding the words I want to say in this tribute, whilst still reeling from the shock of Sarah’s passing are some of the most poignant words I’ve ever written. I cannot even begin to imagine how her family must be feeling at this time, and my heart goes out to every single one of them. From the moment Sarah was a babe in Ann’s arms , I have watched her grow into a kind, caring and accomplished young woman in her prime. Not just a young woman, but a truly dedicated mum, a loving wife and a supportive, devoted daughter to Ann and Colin. Such a vibrant tour de force, Sarah packed so much into her short life and achieved so much. Her whole family must be so proud of her and will hopefully have lots of wonderful and lasting memories to help them try and get through this heartbreaking time, and for Sophie and George to help them remember their loving Mum. Wherever Sarah went, she always brought with her a certain ‘joie de vivre’ and as others have already said in these heartfelt tributes, the showing world will never be the same again. Her selfless act of organ donation is testament to her thoughtful and giving nature. Rest in Peace Sarah. You were loved and will be missed by all whose lives you touched.

  4. Dear Sarah, I’m so glad I got to see you and Luna win the BCC at the inaugural South Western Breed Club Championship Show in May and to give you a congratulatory hug. That was the same day that you told me about your impending surgery and you said, “I’m just telling people so they know why I’m not around, I’m not making a big thing of it at all”. I thought you were so very brave and honestly believed that you would fight it and bounce back as soon as you could. But then you were gone and I cried for days at your passing, not because we were best friends (we were really just showing acquaintances), but because of everything you were and always will be – beloved daughter, wife, mother, a clever handler, always cheerful, positive, smiling, a dear friend to so many people. Fly high now with your beloved Roxy, may your beautiful soul live on in your precious children xx

  5. Words cannot express the sadness I felt when I heard the shocking news that Sarah had left us, having know Sarah since she was a baby in arms and watched her grow and blossom into the lovely person she became, her smile was infectious and she always had time for a chat. Handling a dog was just second nature to her and she always did it with style getting the most out of them in the ring and was regularly rewarded highly. Her family of course were her main priority and my heart goes out to them at this very sad time.
    RIP Sarah…….the ones we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day💔

  6. The English Springer Spaniel show ring will never be the same without Sarah, her energy and enthusiasm will be missed by so many. We find it hard to believe she has been taken so young,
    When we were showing Trimere Time Trail with Sandiebeck (Toby) he always knew when Sarah was around, and was so pleased to see her and had to have a cuddle.
    We will miss her and we send our heartfelt condolences to all of her family and close friends at this heartbreaking time.

  7. Always a smiley face and a laughing personality at shows, Sarah was a welcome sight everywhere she went yet a serious professional on the end of a lead. I cannot believe any of us will feel the English Springer ring will be the same without her presence ever again. The huge shock that reverberated through the dog world at her passing so tragically is testament to the impact she had on us all over the years. My heart goes out to her husband and children and, of course, her best friend and mum Ann.

  8. Tribute to Sarah Willett (née Corbett)

    When the news of Sarah’s passing started to circulate this week, there struck a deep and solemn note in our lives which, as it resounded far and wide, stilled the clatter and traffic of twenty first century life.
    So where does one start in writing such a tribute? Tearfully, I think, is the obvious answer. With the passing of dear Sarah comes the realisation that nothing can be taken for granted. The numerous messages of condolence, the number of posts and comments on social media shows exactly how much so many had been touched in so many ways by Sarah in her time with us, and the sadness felt by her being taken at such a young age.
    I first remember Sarah as a baby, part of the Trimere entourage at shows-but by the time she was a toddler it soon became apparent that the youngest of these 3 lovely girls-joined later by brother Luke, would be far more likely to follow Ann into the show-ring than either Samantha or Sian.
    As soon as she was big enough Sarah was in the ring with one of her beloved Springers. Her passion for the breed -and showing, was there from a very early age.
    In the Summer of 2000 Ann and myself has been invited to judge together at the ESSC Of Sweden. Colin and Ceri were coming too. However, shortly before the trip Ann called to say Colin wouldn’t be able to join us as she’d been let down with dog sitters and someone to look after the then young Sarah and Luke. I made a phonecall, all was sorted, Sarah, Luke and the dogs would come to ours and stay with my mother in law Kassy. Sarah took charge , as a young teenager, of looking after their and our dogs whilst Kassy did the cooking!
    Roll the clock forward to 2006 and we had relocated to the kennels nr Swansea. I at the time was lecturing at Pencoed college. Sarah had completed the same course I lectured on at Moreton Morrell college, but required 1 more week’s work experience to complete her qualification ….Ann asked if she come to us. A week? Hmmmm…..Sarah fitted in straight away and became very friendly with a girl at the kennels, Danielle who was also studying at Pencoed, so after her week was up decided she’d stay and do the HND and move in more permanently. She lived in the annexe attached to the house, but at the time there was only a separate entrance. They say you only really get to know someone when you live with them…..oh yes -the good bits, the not so good bits and all the bits between! Sarah was travelling with me 3 days a week to college and to balance her hours of work on 2 of those mornings she would open the boarding block and put all the dogs out as I was doing our dogs. Each night she’d take the keys in with her-and even now the sight of Sarah climbing out of her bedroom window at the front of the house so we wouldn’t see her walking past the kitchen at the back, to sneak up to the kennels when she’d slept late, still brings a smile to my face. Sarah would then breeze into the kitchen like nothing had happened…..rarely did you see Sarah without a smile on her face -on the odd occasion you did, it didn’t take much effort for one to appear. Any social events Sarah was always part of and soon became a firm favourite of all our neighbours too.
    There is no doubt the saying “her smile was contagious, it lights up the room” was written for Sarah, she loved fun, and she loved to be loved.
    She lived with us for almost 16 months, and it would be pure fallacy to suggest everything was always rosy in the garden….come on let’s be honest….who lives in a house like that? Not long before Sarah was to return home to Nuneaton we had booked a family holiday. So Sarah, Dani and Kirsty would run the place for the week. The rules were simple….someone had to be on site at all times. Sarah had had her driving lessons at ours, and with the addition of her first car we knew any emergency Vet visits etc would be covered . All was well when we returned and a good job had been done by the 3 girls…..or so we thought. It was about 18 months later there was a bit of a confession on one of Sarah’s visits to catch up with people….one of our neighbours had been brought in one night so these 3 Musketeers could have a night down the pub….oh and a house party had been held a different night! 18 months! Anyone who knew Sarah well would know this is potentially the longest time she’d ever kept a secret!
    We would often laugh at shows about things that had happened when Sarah was with us.
    On Sarah’s return home she really started showing in earnest and it wasn’t long before she became a very accomplished handler, quite understated in her handling style, and always beautifully attired.
    The first Springer to take Sarah to great heights was Sh Ch Trimere Tigra, winning her first CC (at one of the Ill-fated Blackpool shows) under Frank Kane, going on to top the group under Moray Armstrong. Sadly her chance to compete for BIS was never realised due to freak high winds causing the cancellation of the final day for safety reasons. The following year when Tigra took her 2nd group at WKC under Dan Eriksson, followed by BIS under Andrew Brace, Sarah was working so Roxy was piloted by Ann. However it wasn’t long before Sarah piloted her beloved Roxy to become one of the top CC winning bitches with many group placings and other accolades to her credit.
    What would happen when Roxy was getting too old to show? Luckily Ann was a bit of a dab hand at breeding the odd good one, and a young Teresa Green soon showed the rest of the breed she was gonna be Sarah’s next big winner. A multi CC winner herself, again featuring well in groups, we often said that whilst she gave her all on the odd time Ann showed her, it was with Sarah that Ruby moved up a gear and gave even more.
    Time marches on and another future star would be required for Sarah to pilot. Ann retained 2 sisters, Sarah took on T Ticket Maid and whilst a different style to Ruby, she became top winner number 3 for Sarah. Her handling style, whilst in many ways understated, was adapted to suit her latest charge, and herself became another multi CC winner.
    Sarah handled a few more to their titles, but it was with the debut of the young Trimere Time Fly’s that secured multi cc winner number 4 with Sarah at the helm most of the time.
    Of these 4 top winning bitches, which would have been Sarah’s favourite? In some ways I’d like to say Roxy, however Sarah was always so fiercely proud of her latest charge, I don’t think anyone would ever really know the answer.
    For many years now Sarah has been a constant companion at shows with her mum, often Sophie and George in tow too. Border Union, Windsor, Malvern, Builth favourite destinations for the caravan, a great dog show caravanning fraternity was built…..Sarah was so loved by so many.

    Im not sure the ESS ring will ever be quite the same again – Yes we sadly lose breeder/exhibitors as time passes, but to lose one so young so soon after many of us had had our last laugh and bit of banter with Sarah at Bath Ch show just a few short weeks ago, is utterly heartbreaking. To Richard, Sophie, George, Ann, Colin, Stevie and Adi, Samantha and family, Sian and her husband and Luke, my heartfelt condolences – thank you for allowing Sarah to touch so many lives. Sarah may have been taken from us so young, but in her short life she packed in so much.
    Time to close with the realisation the ink in my proverbial pen is drying, whilst the tears in my eyes are getting more, and I can think of only one fitting conclusion, with due respect to Binyon….
    “She shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary her, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning
    We will remember her …..

    God speed Sarah…..May ‘flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest’.”

  9. Sarah had been a good friend to me since my early years in English Springers, and as we progressed in dogs she was always chatty, friendly and outgoing, always making me feel included. She was a clever handler, exceptional supporter and always full of integrity and compassion for everybody. I will always think of Sarah as so friendly, smiling and happy (even when she was stressed she would laugh). I find it inconsolable that she will never be seen again by us, but her face will always be in our heart and our memory. Sarah you were the shining light of this dog world, and to me in particular I will significantly miss you. Lots of love chick, and keep em smiling up there. Rest in Peace.

  10. A life cut short far too soon. But what a life Sarah had, a beloved daughter, a loving sister, a wonderful wife and mother and of course a great ambassador & breeder of English Springer Spaniels. She will be sorely missed by her family and countless friends and my sincere condolences goes to them all.
    Rest in Peace Sarah.

  11. “Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
 which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow”

    There is no better way I feel but to remember Sarah with her lovely infectious smile, good heart, sense of fun, and ultimately her unerring love for her children, husband, family & friends & of course her dogs.
    She leaves a legacy that perhaps even she hadn’t imagined by gifting us with fond and special memories for us all to treasure.

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