THE Tadley Cat Fair, spearheaded by David and Marion Canning, took an exciting turn recently.

The event initially started 30 years ago as a humble fundraising idea where members could bring cat photos and contribute £1.

Back in the day, the Cannings, renowned photographers in Tadley and Berkshire, were asked to judge them. Over time, the modest gathering morphed into a public affair, with participants submitting photos beforehand, leading to the event's current incarnation.

Basingstoke Gazette: 1st Visitors Choice by Robyn Taylor featuring Sugar and Smith1st Visitors Choice by Robyn Taylor featuring Sugar and Smith (Image: Robyn Taylor)

The event now enables the public to choose the victors whilst David and Marion Canning parallelly select one "Best in Show".

This year, a staggering 86 photos were submitted, resulting in an intricate voting pattern. The First Public Choice came down to four votes for a photograph by Robyn Taylor, a 4.5-year-old from Tadley featuring cats named Sugar and Smith.

Sophie Powell, hailing from Basingstoke came second using a picture of her cat, Tom, while Roger Newport claimed third place for a picture of his cat, Colin.

The Best in Show was a closely contested decision, with the Cannings considering both artistic appeal and technical merit. Ultimately, they settled on a striking close-up of cat Rockey by Ann Forbes Burford from West Heath near Ramsdell.

Overseeing this competition brings the couple joy, with Marion stating they hope to continue organising the fair as long as their health permits. The event is more than just a photographic contest; part of the profits are donated to the Cat Protection Society.

Basingstoke Gazette: Best in show by Ann Forbes featuring RockeyBest in show by Ann Forbes featuring Rockey (Image: Ann Forbes)

A cheque of £365 was recently handed to Andrea Sheperd, a representative of Cat Protection Basingstoke, marking the profits from 2024 calendar sales and funds raised at other community events. However, the Cannings seem to have hit a snag in preparing for the 2025 calendar.

Despite receiving 86 entries, they are struggling with a shortage of varied photos because of repeat submissions of images featuring the same pets.

The Cannings have made an open call for more cat and dog photographs to ensure diversity in their 2025 calendar.