Crufts announces the nation's top canine hero: a Golden Retriever, Leo

Lyndsey Uglow and Leo have tonight (Sunday March 8th) been announced as the winners of the Kennel Club Friends for Life competition at Crufts 2020.

Leo heads up a team of therapy dogs who visit the Southampton Children's Hospital to provide animal assisted intervention. Leo and friends have been visiting up to five times a week for the past seven years. The team is made up of six dogs and four very experienced handlers and have helped more than 10,000 often critically ill children.

Leo, was one of five hero dogs shortlisted for the Friends for Life competition in February. The finalists shared their unique stories of the impact that each dog has made on their life, with the nation voting for their favourite. The winner was announced in the Resorts World Arena on the final day of the world’s greatest dog show by James Middleton.

The proud owner and deserving dog were presented their award and a cheque for £5,000 from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust for a dog charity of their choice. The four other finalists also received £1,000 for their chosen dog charity for making it to the prestigious final.

Speaking about their win, Lyndsey said: “I know it is just Leo and I up here, but we are a team of four handlers and six dogs.

“The fact that the public have recognised us in this way is quite overwhelming and absolutely lovely. We will share it with the staff and patients at the hospital too, who we are privileged enough to work with.”

Vanessa McAlpine, Crufts Show Manager, said: “We congratulate Leo and Lyndsey on winning this year’s Friends for Life award; their story highlights the incredibly strong bond we share with our four-legged friends and why dogs are truly man’s best friend.

“Each and every one of the dogs in the final has helped to transform their owner’s lives, showing unwavering devotion and companionship. They are a great example of the positive difference that dogs can make. They are all winners and their bonds will last a lifetime.”

The five dogs which made the 2020 final were selected by a panel of judges from the Kennel Club, where they were chosen for the lifetime of love and loyalty they give to their owners and for the way that they have irrevocably changed their lives.