Madame Marie-Genevive Lion
Andrew Spillane writes about the life of this passionate alpaca breeder.
Sadly on 25th January this year France lost one of its greatest supporters and breeders of alpacas. Madame Marie-Geneviève Lion died in her home at Chateau de Rozay near Vierzon in the forest of the Sologne, after a long and very painful illness. I first met Marie Geneviève, and her daughter Gaby, at a show in Vichy in the autumn of 2005. Her enthusiasm and affection for alpacas simply flowed out of her. At that time she had a small herd of, I think it is fair to say, average quality alpacas. We again met at our spring show at the Latiere in 2006 and though as enthusiastic as ever she was appalled to see only one French owned alpaca capable of winning a class. She immediately declared that this had to change and set about doing so in her own forthright and inimitable style. She researched the UK?s top herds and then those in Australia, sought the advice of successful breeders and judges and proceeded to buy a significant number of high quality studs and breeding females. She then embarked on a major breeding programme. She staged her first show in the spring of 2008 in the Sologne attached to a local country fair. At the same time she launched a new club solely for alpacas. Previously all clubs had been combined alpaca and llama and whilst alpacas gradually far outnumbered llamas they were, and still are, very much treated as second class citizens. In 2008 Marie-Geneviève held her first major international show at Vierzon. It was an instant huge success and, through ?Alpaga Developemment? the club she had earlier founded, has subsequently held an annual show of great quality in the region that has gone from strength to strength. The results of her buying and breeding programmes have been self evident over the years with countless Supremes, Champions and Firsts in all classes regardless of colour. Without doubt she has been the pre-eminent alpaca breeder in France, throughout fully and ably support by Gaby who in these last couple of years has shouldered more and more of the daily workload. She will be well prepared for the difficult road ahead. With the death of Marie-Geneviève France has lost its premier supporter of alpacas, a tough, courageous and determined lady of strong opinions, not always easy to get along with but always unfailingly helpful, courteous and polite, truly France?s First Lady of Alpacas.