Andrew Preston from Congleton, Cheshire has won the KCAI Instructor of the Year award, and Tig Stephenson from Uxbridge, Middlesex has won the KCAI Significant Contribution award at the KCAI Awards ceremony which took place at the world’s greatest dog show, Crufts, on Sunday 8th March.
Andrew and Tig were nominated by family, friends and clients for the awards, which recognise inspirational dog training instructors who have made a positive difference to the lives of owners and their dogs.
Andrew has been working as a dog trainer and breeder for nearly 20 years. He is a Kennel Club Accredited Instructor in Assistance Dogs, and his work is dedicated to mainly working in the mental health and autism sector as a bespoke Assistance Dog training instructor.
Speaking about winning his award, Andrew said: “It’s a great honour to accept this, and on behalf of Autism Dogs, we feel it’s a really special award. It’s something that should be shared by all our trainers that assist us and particularly everybody that works with autism and mental health so thank you very much indeed.”
Tig first got in to dog training in the 1990s, initially through training her own dog and then teaching her own classes and competing in obedience. In addition to dog training instructing, she also arranges displays at charity events, visits care homes, and has conducted voluntary work at schools and youth groups giving talks to children about how to be safe around dogs.
Speaking about her award, Tig said: “I’m incredibly surprised, so so honoured and really privileged that people have nominated me and that the Kennel Club recognised my contribution.”
The purpose of the Kennel Club Accredited Instructor (KCAI) scheme is to recognise and promote experienced and competent dog training instructors who are committed to using dog training methods which are based on the principles of kindness, fairness and the good welfare of dogs. The scheme offers its members the opportunity to gain a nationally-recognised vocational accreditation award, based on standards set by the Kennel Club.
Janine Beacher from City & Guilds, said: “City & Guilds is very privileged and honoured to work with the Kennel Club’s KCAI scheme. We think that the work that the KCAI scheme carries out is very important in maintaining and promoting high skills standards in the industry and the trainers deserve this recognition for the hard work they undertake.”
Kathryn Mansfield, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “Many congratulations to Andrew and Tig for winning these awards. The nominations they received are a real testament to how grateful so many people are for their contribution to the world of dogs. The Kennel Club is very thankful for their valuable work they do both as dog training instructors and volunteers.
“This year’s KCAI awards proved very popular, and we’re proud of all the members who were nominated. It’s great to see that KCAI scheme members are getting the recognition they deserve. With their specialist knowledge and practical experience, the scheme’s members are making a remarkable effort to improve the quality of life for dogs and their owners.”