The Young Kennel Club would love for you to vote for a winner in the Young Person of the Year Award 2020. The award celebrates five Young Kennel Club members who have overcome huge challenges to demonstrate their love of dogs, and encourage others to become a part of the dog world. Read all their stories below and then select your chosen winner. The overall winner will be announced on Sunday 8th March in the Young Kennel Club ring at Crufts 2020.
Celebrating young people and their dogs who through their positive attitude and inspirational approach have proved to be a good role model.
Jodie Forbes is twenty three years old and has always loved dogs and they make up her whole life. In the past she has worked with shelter dogs in Asia, at veterinary surgeries and in kennels, as well as competing in and winning agility, freestyle to music and grooming at Crufts with her own dogs and also training them for television, film and live stage performances. However, what is most fundamentally important to her is working with difficult, misunderstood dogs and their owners. In 2019 with her partner they set up a dog training and behaviour academy called Make Your Mark. Over the past year they have worked with over a hundred dogs, offering them a wholly inclusive training experience, in activities from scent work to agility, which they would normally be unable to attend due to their behaviour problems. Through their classes, 1-2-1s and online content, they have reached thousands of dog owners, with messages of positivity, providing advice and helpful training tutorials. Jodie has also spoken publicly about her own struggles with mental health disorders and acceptance of neurodiversity and like in humans, there can be so much more behind ‘problem behaviours’. They have also worked with assistance dogs, trained dogs for search and rescue and regularly visit schools to teach young children about dogs. She has shown young people what can be achieved with dedication and hard work.
Celebrating young people who show commitment and passion through social action – fundraising, campaigning, activities at school, college or community for the welfare of dogs.
Ryan Hennessy is twenty four years old and has been competing in agility for fourteen years and judging for the last four years. In 2019, along with his best friend they set up the organisation ‘Forever Agility’ (hopefully soon to be a registered charity) in memory of his mum, Ann, who passed away from cancer in March 2019. The love and support shown by the agility community following his mum’s diagnosis was amazing, and so they wanted Forever Agility to replicate that. They want to be there for those in the community who need help the most as a new diagnoses of a life limiting illness can be devastating news or living with a long term illness can be tough enough without the worry of the financial burden it has on you and your family. Previously Forever Agility has helped in a range of ways, from vet’s bills to travel costs, from palliative care retreats to state of the art medical equipment and mobility aids. They want to help people of all ages, and it is not limited to those that are ill. Forever Agility can also help when people are in situations of deep financial burden.
The strength Ann showed, and what she achieved in that time that she was ill is what kick started the charity idea. Her inspiration and passion for life will live on through the work they do. To be presented with the Community Award at Crufts 2020 is extra special to Ryan, as his mum passed away shortly after Crufts last year, where she had come to Birmingham to cheer Ryan on in the Championship Agility class.
Celebrating young people who have overcome personal challenges with their dog as well as the skills they have developed to achieve success.
Georgina Kent is fifteen years old and she owns two Border Terriers who are brother and sister, yet really very different indeed. The older one, Boo, was her first ever dog and she has enjoyed training her through the Kennel Club Good Citizens awards: Puppy, Bronze, Silver and Gold; as well as agility classes. When Boo was a year old, her mum was expecting another litter and Georgina and her family chose her brother. At that time Georgina had not been feeling well at all, and after a few weeks she was diagnosed with Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. This turned Georgina’s life and her family’s lives upside down! Her consultants were not too keen on Georgina having a new puppy at home because of infection risks, but she felt she still wanted to have him so much. He joined the family the same weekend as Georgina came home from her first month’s stay in hospital.
They all had quite a journey ahead. Dylan’s most beautiful nature helped Georgina to get better. Georgina does not know what she would have done without both her dogs loving her; they know when she is not feeling well and seem to understand what’s needed. Now that Georgina has completed a year of intensive treatment and begun a further eighteen months of maintenance treatment she is looking forward to taking both dogs to agility classes and has begun practising in the garden with them already. Georgina’s dogs mean the world to her, and they have helped her get through such a difficult time in her life!
Celebrating young people who dedicate their time to helping others and gone over and above what would be expected of them.
Jamie Smith is fourteen year old and volunteers his time to the national charity The Cinnamon Trust who help organise volunteers to walk dogs for the elderly, terminally ill or housebound. The charity was founded by Chief Executive Mrs Averil Jarvis MBE which celebrates thirty five years. Jamie sacrifices his free time after school and weekends to walk Sam a nine year old Dachshund. From the moment Jamie met Sam and her owner and saw that the owner could not walk he wanted to help straight away. He now walks Sam with his mum twice a week and loves to offer this help to someone who loves their dog but cannot get out to walk her. Jamie lost his dad last year and experienced what it means to be terminally ill and not to be able to look after yourself on top of a pet. Jamie is also now privileged to have an eight month old Labrador Retriever which he absolutely adores. Jamie described taking Sam for walks very rewarding and also has made him feel better too.
Celebrating young people who show real passion and dedication for competing or training their dog.
Taylor Lyon is eleven years old and from Northamptonshire. She started taking part in agility at the age of five, running her mum’s springer spaniel Henry in any size classes. In the same year Taylor also got her own working cocker spaniel puppy, Elliott. She trained Elliott in agility herself with Deena Freeman at Chance Agility Training. In the last four seasons they have progressed from Grade 1 to Grade 6 and have qualified for Crufts four times in YKC Agility. Last year they won the U12 Medium YKC Jumping. Taylor also runs friend and club member Kim Watts’ Border Collie Tariq. Tariq has been a brilliant “schoolmaster” for Taylor, building her confidence and improving her handling skills. Together they have qualified for Crufts in the YKC Agility three times and last year they came third in the ADOTY Final in the main arena. Last year was a special year for Taylor and her dogs. As well as their results at Crufts, Taylor was selected to represent Junior Agility Team GB with both Tariq and Elliott at the European Open Junior Agility Championships in Switzerland, becoming the youngest handler to ever be selected. Taylor went on to win two bronze medals – one in U12 individual jumping with Tariq and one in the U19 team jumping in a “Rest of the World” team with Elliott. As well as competing, Taylor enjoys being a regular part of ring parties at agility shows, helping out with all aspects of the ring from pole picking to calling, and last year, despite being only ten, she was a ring manager for one of her local shows. From training a puppy spaniel from such a young age herself there have been many ups and downs but with support from a great club, family and friends Taylor and Elliott are growing up and developing together through hard work, determination and a lot of love for one another.