Obituary: Frank Close

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Goldfish show standards judge Frank Close has died aged 83, writes Bill Ramsden, President of the Northern Goldfish and Pondkeepers' Society.

It was sad to hear that on the 24th September 2008, that a great friend, fellow fishkeeper and show standards judge, Frank Close, had died.

Frank, who was born in Belfast, moved to England when he was 14 years old and lived in the Midlands. After two years national service with the RAF, in 1948 Frank embarked upon a career with Jaguar cars, for which he was to work for over 38 years.

A devoted family man, married to Dorothy for over 60 years, he became interested in fish at a relatively young age. Frank made very significant and important contributions to the hobby of fishkeeping and his passing is a sad loss to the aquarist world.

His passion for keeping fish and meticulous attention to detail helped to create the very high standards of fish-breeding that we have today.

Frank was second to none when it came to selecting and breeding fancy goldfish. On many occasions I visited his house where he bred some of the finest Bristol shubunkins and veiltails that I have ever seen.

In 1975 he was instrumental in eradicating the confusion in the hobby, experienced through each society having its own differing individual set of standards. In order to do so, he organized the original national show standards, through the creation of, The Associated Goldfish Societies, which later became the Nationwide.

A master of his art he once put me in my place with his superior knowledge and observation. As a prospective judge I once went to a show at Bristol and, for experience, recorded my own observations on the fish, before the real judging took place. In one class of veiltails there were two fish which stood out from the rest as potential winners. I chose the one I thought was the best but after judging, discovered that Frank had chosen the other.

Believing I knew best, as we all do, I asked Frank why he had gone for the other one. He then proceeded to gently point out to me that the tail on the fish I had chosen had been 'doctored'. Frank had noticed that only one side of the split-tail actually had a 'rib'. From this he had deduced that it could not have split naturally and must have been cut with a razor blade.

Always kind, helpful and encouraging Frank helped the Northern Goldfish and Pondkeepers' Society put on its first show in 1977. In fact with only 54 in the bank, and no equipment, the show would not have been held without the loan of tanks from the Midlands Aquarium and Pool Society, arranged by Frank.

Frank was a great man and it was a privilege to know him. Like many, many others I will miss him enormously.

Our deepest condolences go out to his wife Dorothy, and children, Susan, Stephen, Richard and Robert.

Bill Ramsden, President, Northern Goldfish and Pondkeepers' Society