In the early '90s a number of British fanciers imported 'Nederlandse Hangoor Dwerg' rabbits from Holland. The Holland Lop Club, which was not affiliated to the BRC, was then formed to help these fanciers and co-ordinate efforts to develop the breed in the UK. All of the imported rabbits were ear tattooed by their breeders prior to importation into the UK.
At about the same time, the British Mini Lop Club, again an unaffiliated body, was formed to promote the breeding of a small lop eared rabbit using British blood lines which had been developed from Dwarf Lops.
In 1994 both Clubs applied for affiliation to the British Rabbit Council but were refused on the grounds that the two breeds were so similar and the B.R.C. was not prepared to accept one Club or Standard over the other. As it was apparent that, in the eyes of the B.R.C., we were dealing with the same rabbit, a Standard had to be written in consultation with the Breed Standards Committee of the B.R.C. which satisfied both groups of breeders. The amalgamation of the two Clubs, the new Standard and the ring size for the breed were agreed in principle and the new rings ( size K ) were issued by the B.R.C. in 1994. The new Club also had to have a name and a constitution. The Constitution and final Standard were agreed in November 1994 and in December a ballot of Members of both clubs was held by the BRC for the election of Officers and Committee of the newly named National Miniature Lop Rabbit Club. The first meeting of the new Committee was held at the Bradford Championship show in January 1995 and the Club was formally granted affiliation at a meeting of the B.R.C. Management Committee on January 28th 1995. The late John Sandford, who was for some time Secretary then Chairman and subsequently honorary advisor to the BRC, with his wealth of experience in such matters, was greatly influential in the bringing together of the two groups and the subsequent success of the new Club.
The Club is run by a Committee of 6 members plus a President, Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary. We have 2 judges panels of twenty people each. The judges are elected each year in the annual ballot of Members. The ballot is also the place where any alterations to the rules are decided by the Members.
There are currently about 300 Members scattered around the UK from Scotland to the South Coast with a few overseas Members. We hold about 8 shows each year and try to spread them fairly evenly around the Country so that all Members have the opportunity to attend Club Stock Shows. In December 1995 we held a show in conjunction with the first National Rabbit Show at the Cage & Aviary Birds Show in the NEC, Birmingham, one of only three breed clubs who attended. We were at the N.E.C. again in '96, 97 and 98 with more breed clubs in attendance.
At the end of 1995 we published our first year book which was distributed free to all 1996 Members. This is something we are quite proud of being able to do so soon after the formation of the Club. Our second year book was published in April 1997 and we have published one each year since.
The National Miniature Lop Rabbit Club has been very proud of the fact that, since it's formation, its Officers, Committee and Members have worked very closely together to encourage new Members and towards the improvement of the breed. In the early days there were very few rabbits which met the standard, many were of poor type or going over the weight limit. Also, the good examples of the breed were owned by only a small handful of people and many of our Members were pleased to go home from a show with a prize card at all. But they persevered with their breeding and gradually the better stock moved around the country from breeder to breeder, sometimes at very little cost. For the most part, advice, information and stock which has been passed round has been first class. This has allowed the stock to improve out of all recognition and the Miniature Lop can hold its own with the best. This was borne out at the London Championship Show in October 1999 when, to really end the Millennium on a high note, the Agouti Miniature Lop owned and bred by Susan Carlisle from Cumbria ( Solo Stud ) was made Best in Show.
If you would like to find out more about the Miniature Lop, or want to join the Club, or even if you just want to talk about rabbits, please contact the Secretary.
Jane E Duffy,
National Miniature Lop Rabbit Club