Best in Show - A lifetime in the judging ring for Bob Bell and Lois Wilkinson

In 2022, Melbourne Royal® celebrates 150 years since the first Dog Show was held in 1872 at the St Kilda Road Showgrounds. Yes, the Showgrounds were at St Kilda Road, Melbourne.

Since 1872, the Melbourne Royal® Dog Show has grown into the Australia’s leading All-Breeds Championship Show, with more than 3,900 entries across 200 breeds competing over nine days during the annual Melbourne Royal® Show at Melbourne Showgrounds, Ascot vale.

The growth and success of the Melbourne Royal® All-Breeds Championship Show is due to the passion and commitment of all involved, in particular the Dog Section Committee who generously volunteer their valuable time.

Two long servicing Dog Section Committee members that have made a significant contribution to the Melbourne Royal® All-Breeds Championship Show over a long period of time are Robert (Bob) Bell and Lois Wilkinson.

Bob Bell (front row middle) and Lois Wilkinson (front row second from the right) pictured with the Dogs Committee and officials at the 2017 Melbourne Royal® Show  

Both Bob and Lois have faced some personal challenges in recent times and the Melbourne Royal® Board, management and staff along with exhibitors and sponsors want to thank and acknowledge their wonderful support and contribution over a long period of time. The Melbourne Royal® and the Dog Show community wish Bob and Lois all the best and look forward to both of them being part of the celebrations in 2022 when we celebrate 150 years since the first Melbourne Royal® Dog Show.


Robert (Bob) Bell

Bob Bell has been involved with the Melbourne Royal® All Breeds Championship Show for six decades, having commenced as a steward at the 1973 Melbourne Royal® Show, joining the Committee in 1993, before being appointed as chair of the committee in 1997 – a position Bob held for 16 years.

Bob first entered the dog show scene in 1956 with the purchase of his first pedigree ‘Collie (Rough)’ and has concentrated ever since with the Collie breed.

His formal judging career commenced in 1963 and since the mid 70’s, Bob has judged at an average of 16 shows per year. Bob’s judging assignments have taken him across all Australian States and Territories, along with extensive international experience adjudicating in New Zealand, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and the Philippines.

Alongside Bob’s extensive administrative contribution to the Melbourne Royal®, he was an appointed representative on the Kennel Control Council/Victorian Canine Association Management Committee from 1976 to 1993, serving on several of its sub-committees, he was involved for more than two decades in the Judges Training Scheme and was Chairman of the Classic Dog Show Committee and Vice-President of the Caulfield & District Kennel Club, retiring from these roles in the past couple of years.

Bob stepped down as Chair of the Melbourne Royal® Dogs Committee in 2013, handing the role over to Wayne Pearson (dec), with Andrew Burt now in the role of Chair. Bob has remained an active Melbourne Royal® Dogs Committee member and 2021 marks an incredible 28 years of active service for Bob, making him one of the organisations longest serving volunteers.

Bob was recognised as a Councillor of the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria in 1995 and was elevated to the highest honour of Life Councillor in 2015.  


Lois Wilkinson

An exhibitor of the Melbourne Royal® All Breeds Championship Show since 1976, Lois Wilkinson has made an ongoing contribution to the continued success of the event. Spending 15 years exhibiting, Lois commenced volunteering as a trophy steward and assistant steward in 1991.  

In 2003, Lois expanded her involvement, becoming the first woman to join the Melbourne Royal® Dogs Committee, a position that Lois maintains to the highest esteem today.

Lois is a wonderful advocate and supporter of the Melbourne Royal® Show and contributes a great deal of time in planning the successful delivery of the dog section in the lead up to the Melbourne Royal® Show each year.

Lois recognises and takes immense pride in presenting a vast array of trophies and sashes to the highest possible standard and is recognised for consistently delivering an outstanding trophy table for display during the prestigious Best in Show judging.

Recognised by the Dog Section Committee, the Melbourne Royal® and her peers as an outstanding friend, Lois has devoted considerable time to teaching and mentoring trophy stewards. 

If you would like to learn more about the people that have shaped Melbourne Royal®, visit the Virtual Museum and browse the oral history collection, or contact our heritage team at