VIDEO: Meet the Dudley man who judges guinea pigs around the world and has 80 of his own
A renowned guinea pig judge from Dudley, who has 80 of his own, is to feature in a major documentary about the furry friends.
Jme Eglington, from Coseley, will feature in a new documentary titled The Keeper of the Pigs, taking to the big screens at Showcase Cinemas across the country from Friday, November 10.
The 36-year-old is sent all over the world judging cavy shows – cavy being the technical term for guinea pig. He has also credited them for getting him through a previous divorce.
Jme lives with his husband, Liam, 80 guinea pigs, 30 white pigeons, 11 chickens, five dogs, two rabbits, and a tortoise. In the garden, Jme built an insulated garage for his pigs measuring 16.5 feet squared and featuring central heating, hot and cold water, and cages made of plastic and metal to reduce the risk of infection.
He said he first found his love for the pigs when he was eight years old.
"My dad used to keep birds, and he would go to bird auctions all the time," Jme said. "They often had other animals at these auctions too.
"One time, when he took me with him, I saw a little golden guinea pig that was to go on auction.
"I begged and I begged for my dad to get it. I had £3 left of my pocket money, and he said I can bid up to £3, as I couldn't afford any more. If it costs more, I can't have it, he said.
"It went for £3.50. I was absolutely devastated."
It was a woman sitting next to Jme in the auction that had bought the guinea pig for £3.50.
"She saw how upset I was, and said to my dad, "If he really wants it, he can buy it off me for £3". So I did."
The pair went home, and Jme named his new friend Ron Weasley – after the orange-haired Harry Potter character.
Later on, when Jme wanted another guinea pig, he was introduced to his friend's mum, who bred them.
"She had a shed-full of them. I was in my element." Jme said. "She told me that she shows them. I couldn't believe that there were shows for guinea pigs, which is the same reaction I get when I tell people I go to cavy shows all over Europe."
The first guinea pig show that Jme went to was at Birmingham Cavy Club, previously in Coleshill. Now, Jme runs the club himself, which he renamed Birmingham and Black Country Cavy Club, at St Chad's in Coseley.
The process of judging the pigs is similar to that of dog shows – out of 40 different registered breeds, each breed goes up against their own. The pigs that are closest to reaching the standards of its breed will be put forward to compete with similar breeds, and so on.
"People enter their pets into the competition as more of a hobby," Jme added, "and the winners are awarded a lovely fleurette.
"We don't just celebrate the best in show, but we celebrate as many as we can."
The documentary follows the "humorous and heart-warming" adventure of director Sharon Walia and rescue centre owner, Shaz Kelly, on their voyage from the UK to Peru, setting out to discover the forgotten history of the guinea pig.
Jme said: "I saw the documentary last Thursday at the premiere. Sharon has done an amazing job of capturing all aspects of guinea pigs, from the care of them to the potential of what they can do with you as a hobby, but also about the neglect, which is the sad part.
"It also touches on how culturally significant they are in other countries.
"Guinea pigs are eaten in peru. For someone that loves them, is not something that you want to hear, but it is the sad truth. It wouldn't be a real documentary if it didn't touch on all aspects."
Birmingham and Black Country Cavy Club will be holding two shows next year at St Chad's church on March 3 and October 6. Members of the public are invited to visit between 11am and 3pm.