Balloon accident victims find success in the show ring and qualify for DFS Crufts

Lesley and Jim Parker celebrate their win with Frank the Giant SchnauzerA Selby couple involved in a tragic hot air balloon accident have transformed their lives and won at a major championship dog show to qualify for the world’s greatest dog show, DFS Crufts next year.

Lesley and Jim Parker from Selby entered their dog Frank, a two year old Giant Schnauzer, in the South Wales Kennel Association Championship Show and he went on to win the Best of Breed award. By collecting his third Best of Sex award along the way, Frank has now officially earned the title of Champion, and will make his way to the NEC in Birmingham next year to compete against over 20,000 other dogs at DFS Crufts.

Lesley and Jim were involved in a serious hot air ballooning accident in 1997, which left Lesley with a serious spinal injury and in a wheelchair. The couple have found solace however in showing dogs, both for the love that their animals bring them and the social element of dog showing.

Lesley said: “Before the accident, we were both very active and enjoyed mountain biking, keeping fit, playing badminton together and anything generally that was a little different with an element of excitement, such as hot air ballooning! Life in a wheelchair was quite strange and a difficult transition, but showing our dogs has given us both back an interest and hobby we can share, which has combined our love of dogs with something that is different and exciting.

“Showing our dogs is very much a team effort. I learnt to groom them whilst sitting down, and our dogs learn to be groomed mainly laid down on the grooming table, whilst Jim does all the handling and ring training.”

The couple started dog showing in 2004, with Frank’s mother winning Best Bitch in her breed at Crufts 2007 and 2008.

Lesley and Jim are members of the Kennel Club’s Accredited Breeder Scheme, which means that they agree to carry out all of the required health tests for the dogs they breed, and take other steps to give them the best chance of breeding happy, healthy puppies.

Carline Kisko, Communication Director at the Kennel Club, commented: “It is fantastic that Lesley and Jim have harnessed the cathartic aspects of dog showing, and after such a tragic accident gone on to find a hobby that is both fun and socially stimulating. Congratulations on their win and we look forward to seeing them at next year’s DFS Crufts.”

The South Wales Kennel Association Championship Show is one of 37 General Championship dog shows throughout the year that enable dogs to qualify for DFS Crufts, which will take place at the NEC, Birmingham in March 2010. For more information on DFS Crufts visit

Caption: Lesley and Jim Parker celebrate their win with Frank the Giant Schnauzer

15th October 2009
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