The Harislau and Megrim Cats share the home of John Harrison and Mark Parkinson in the beautiful unspoiled countryside of North Wales.
In the 1960's Betty Harrison started breeding Lilac Point and Tabby Point Siamese, and following a meeting with Angela Sayer of the Solitaire Cattery, now Mrs Angela Rixon, she started a breeding programme to produce the 'Lavender' version of the Chestnut Brown Foreign, the present day Havana, and the variety we now call the Oriental Spotted Tabby. Initially Betty's daughter Jane shared 'Harislau' with her Mother but withdrew from cat breeding when she started her own family!
In the early 1970's her son John with the help, generosity and guidance of Patricia Turner of the famous Scintilla Cats, now Mrs Pat Newton, and the freely given advice of the late Roy Robinson, a geneticist of World renown, started breeding Red, Caramel and Silvers in both Tabby and Shaded. He was forced to take out a prefix of his own because Betty was not prepared to have Caramel, Silver, or 'wide-band' kittens registered in her prefix!! In later years this was a great source of amusement for both Mother and Son!
During the 1970's and 1980's both Betty and John were actively involved in various Breed Clubs and Joint Committees catering for the Oriental varieties, as well as in Regional clubs. They were both Delegates to the GCCF, Betty representing the Oriental Cat Association and then the Havana Cat Club when it gained affiliation, and John The Foreign White Cat Fanciers Association, and for a while the Angora Breed Club; they are the only Mother & Son ever to sit as members of the Governing Council at the same time and they also have the distinction of being the only Mother & Son to be appointed as GCCF Judges.
Betty owned and bred Siamese, British Blue and Sorrel Abyssinians as well as Oriental Shorthairs. Two of Betty's early Lilac Spotted Tabby kittens, Harislau Aubretia and Harislau Anemone, were exported to USA where they had a profound influence on the development of the Oriental Tabbies.
Betty was appointed as a Judge of the Havana by the GCCF in 1976; and subsequently became a judge of all Orientals, Cornish Rex, Devon Rex, Korat, and Asians. Betty was President of the 'Oriental Cat Association'; Vice President of the 'Havana & Oriental Lilac Cat Club'; and Vice President of the 'Oriental Shaded, Smoke & Tabby Society'.
After judging consistently for 29 years, latterly with increasing disability, Betty decided in early 2005 to become Judge Emeritus, a role which would still enable her to judge at one or two of her favourite shows. Sadly in August of that year, just 3 days after judging what proved to be her last show, Betty suffered a major stroke leaving her totally incapacitated - the cruellest of fates for an intelligent person: Betty's grasp on life, and will to live, flickered for four years and she died peacefully in her sleep on John's birthday in June 2009, sadly just 8 weeks before her daughter Jane also died.
In addition to Orientals in Shorthair, Longhair and Bicolour John has owned or bred Siamese, Cornish Rex, Burmilla, Tiffanie and Persian. In 1986, after stewarding at every show he had attended for the previous 17 years, John was appointed as a Judge of the Oriental by the GCCF. During his many years stewarding he stewarded in all breeds for many of the great judges of the time, sadly only two of these judges are still with us. As well as judging at GCCF shows John has also judged at independent shows in mainland Europe, preferring the continental style of show to that of the GCCF not only because the cats are all graded as well as placed in the class, but also because there is a much greater interaction between judge and exhibitor: exhibitors know the judge's opinion on the cats both verbally and in writing at the time of judging, and as a bonus there is no requirement to write lengthy reports after the show! John is a Full Judge of all Oriental, Cornish Rex, Asian, Ragdoll, Norwegian Forest Cat, and Siberians. John is President of the 'Oriental Cat Association'.
John is honoured that he has been invited to sit on the Supreme Best in Show panel at the 2012 GCCF Supreme Show - for a GCCF Judge there can be no greater accolade.