YKC Young Person of the Year Award

The YKC Young Person of the Year Award recognises and celebrates the achievements of inspiring and innovative young people who are making a difference for dogs. The award has five categories including Young Braveheart, Champion Volunteer, Good Buddy, Sporting Talent and Fundraiser of the year.

The public sent in their nominations, and we have now selected the winners, who have been shortlisted for the overall award of Outstanding Person of the Year. We need YOU to vote for your overall winner!

Anyone can submit a vote for their favourite nominee and the winner will be announced at Crufts on Sunday in the YKC ring at 11.40am.

Read about the nominees below.

Voting is now open!

Voting closes at midday on Saturday 9th March 2019.


Champion Volunteer of the Year

Celebrating young people who dedicate their time to helping others.

Imogen Woodman

Imogen aged twenty years old, is selfless and cares hugely about people and dogs and has made this a big part of her life since a very young age. Despite personal challenges, Imogen has managed to achieve so much with her dogs and her passion for volunteering. Imogen attended East Grinstead and District Dog Training Club with her dog Millie since she was eleven years old and last year she volunteered to become secretary for the club, to train the puppy course there and also now runs her own trick training classes. Imogen and her dog Millie volunteer for Pets as Therapy as Millie cannot compete and train as much anymore. Mille loves her new role as a therapy dog; she visits a care home every week and loves meeting the residents. To further her interest in training, Imogen decided to become a trainer for Dog AID and really enjoys watching the handlers and dogs progress.

Last year Imogen rescued a young dog from Romania through the charity Paws2Rescue and enjoys the challenge of training him. She also helps with the charity when she can through volunteering, such as helping them load the lorry of donations for their Christmas shoebox appeal. Millie sparked Imogen’s passion for dog training and has inspired her to study a degree in Canine Behaviour and Training.


Fundraiser of the Year

Celebrating young people who raise money for good causes.

Georgie Bearder

Georgie Bearder is thirteen years old and runs her crossbreed in agility and is currently grade five. Georgie started running in agility when she was six years old, borrowing her mum’s and other people’s dogs until the age of nine when she finally got her own dog. Bella was a street dog who South West GSD Rescue had rescued from the streets in Romania and brought to England to find a home. Georgie fell in love with her and ever since she has been her best friend and loyal companion. Georgie’s fundraising started when she learned about the street dog problem in other countries, and how Bella had been treated. Initially her goal was to raise £250 – enough money to save another street dog like Bella, and began raising money by selling dog treats and painting glasses. By the end of that year she had reached the £250 mark but I saw no reason to stop as she was enjoying the fundraising that she did.

In 2016 she had doubled it, but this didn’t slow her determination to make a difference. By the end of 2017, she had single-handedly broken the £1,000 barrier by raising the money by painting glasses, baking dog treats, making bracelets and hauling water at agility shows for hours on end for no personal gain. In August 2017 she had raised enough money to save four dogs. Georgie then set her next target of £2,000, and last August the agility club Somerset West Agility Training (SWAT) gave her a glass painting order of 500 glasses for show trophies. She managed to complete them by the start of December just in time to give the rescue a Christmas present of over £2,000, making the overall total raised for South West GSD Rescue £3,353.07. Georgie has the most amazing dog and South West GSD have given her an amazing companion who she would be lost without. Georgia dedicates her time to fundraising and her determination has never faltered from an early age. With the support of her agility community and others she goes from strength to strength to fundraise.


Good Buddy of the Year

Celebrating young people and their dogs who have proved to be an inspirational role model.

Paige Jepson

Having always loved dogs, Paige aged twenty-one years old joined the Young Kennel Club over eleven years ago. She currently owns six Border Collies and one Bearded Collie. Over the years Paige has competed in most of the disciplines the YKC has to offer. The discipline she is most passionate about is obedience and currently competes with four dogs.  Paige feels that obedience is a discipline that needs promotion and there is a limited number of young members competing, because of this she dedicates her time to training young people in obedience at clubs near her and across the country as it is important to her to support all clubs that run YKC obedience classes. 

Paige volunteers at many YKC events such as Crufts, Discover Dogs and the East of England and Newark activity weekends, helping to set up and run the weekends as well as teaching handling and obedience to all abilities, from beginners to those competing at a high level. All these events shaped the person Paige has become, whether that be through training her dogs or the social side, because of this Paige gives her time to others so they have the same experience she had growing up. Paige really enjoys meeting new people who have the same love for dogs and offering advice and support. Over the past few years Paige has started to steward and judge various obedience, handling and breed shows, which creates a good image for younger members. If it was not for the Young Kennel Club, Paige would not have the confidence, knowledge or experience she has today. Paige is an inspirational role model and a good buddy to other youngsters to follow her example.



Sporting Talent of the Year

Celebrating young people who show a real passion for competing or training their dog.

Lucas Irwin-Burns

Lucas, aged sixteen years old first started agility eight years ago with two of his family dogs, Rex and Boo. In 2013 Lucas started running his sister’s dog Pixie and that year went on to win the Open Junior Agility Championships (OJAC) with her. The following year he ran his own dog, Mollie, at OJAC and won the title for the second year running. Lucas has been fortunate to qualify for the YKC at Crufts every year since 2014, and has won with all three dogs in the YKC ring which qualified them for the main arena.

In 2017 he was part of the Junior Agility Team GB with Boo, his now ten year-old crossbreed; this is something he had always dreamed of doing. Lucas loved being at the event and was determined to get back on the team in 2018, but wanted to do so with his sister’s dog Sam. They worked and trained hard during the try-out process and won their spot on the 2018 team. His goal for this event was to try and get on the podium, and Sam and Lucas did exactly that as they managed to win an overall bronze medal, something that Lucas is extremely proud of. Standing on the podium representing his country was an unforgettable and very proud moment for Lucas and at only sixteen years of age the hard work, passion and dedication is an inspiration to others wanting to compete at a high level and a bright future for agility.


Young Braveheart of the Year

Celebrating young people who have overcome personal barriers with their dog to achieve success.

Layla Kececi

Layla Kececi is fourteen years old and born with bilateral hip dysplasia, leading Layla to have nine operations which left her very depressed as she couldn’t do things like other children.

After being in a wheelchair and bullied at school, Layla’s mother decided to get a rescue dog which she knew needed a loving home and thought would be benefical to both Layla and the dog. Layla had low confidence but the dog helped make her laugh and feel better again. The dog has given Layla the confidence and the will to get up and walk and enjoy her life again, and even try YKC Handling. They have had so much fun at local dog shows they have competed in Scruffts in the last three years. If it was not for her dog, Layla would not be walking like she is today and proves that a dog can change your life like it has Layla’s. They rescued each other and the bond is inseparable.