Surrey youngster honoured with top award at Crufts

Dog loving young adult Ryan Hennessy from Chipstead, Surrey was chosen as the Young Kennel Club (YKC) Young Person of the Year at Crufts 2020 on Sunday March 8th.

Ryan, aged 24, set up the organisation Forever Agility last year in memory of his mum, Ann, who passed away from cancer in March 2019. Ryan wanted to replicate the love and support shown by the agility community following Ann’s diagnosis, with the aim to be there for those who need help whilst facing life-limiting or long-term illnesses.

Forever Agility has helped others in a range of ways, from vet’s bills to travel costs, palliative care retreats to state-of-the-art medical equipment and mobility aids. The organisation is currently trying to find a specialist lawyer who can help them be legally ratified as a charity with the Charity Commission.   

Ryan, who will take over as chief judge for YKC agility events in 2020, has competed for a decade in YKC agility, helped and encouraged by his mother during that time.

Proud Ryan said: “I wasn’t even aware that a friend had nominated me until the Kennel Club contacted me. I won that round and then found out I had been entered into a public vote for the main award.

“To think that the public voted for me to win is really nice and gives us the kind of boost we need to move what we hope to soon be calling our charity forward.”

The YKC was inundated with nominations for one of five categories in the prestigious award which celebrates the hardworking, inspirational and selfless actions of young dog lovers. Each category winner was invited to Crufts 2020 for the award ceremony following a public vote to decide the overall YKC ­Young Person of the Year award.

The category winners were:

  • Community Award – Ryan Hennessy, aged 24, from Surrey
  • Volunteering Award – Jamie Smith, aged 14, from London
  • Personal Achievement Award –   Georgina Kent, aged 15, from North Yorkshire
  • Sporting Talent Award – Taylor Lyon, aged 11 from Northamptonshire
  • Inspiring Others Award –   Jodie Forbes, aged 23 years old from Dorset
The YKC Young Person of the Year award is one of the highest levels of achievement for young dog lovers. For over thirty years Ed and Cindy McAlpine have presented the Shaun McAlpine Trophy to the winner of the award at Crufts, in memory of their son, Shaun. The trophy is awarded annually to encourage young dog lovers to become more involved in dog activities, as Shaun himself had achieved considerable success as a dog handler.

Previous winners of the competition have been selected for their volunteering and fundraising for dog charities, helping organise dog activities in the local community, and assisting others through training, stewarding and mentoring.

Vanessa McAlpine, Crufts Show Manager, commented: “Congratulations to Ryan for winning this year’s YKC Young Person of the Year award. He is a well-deserved winner and is a real inspiration to many other young dog lovers around the UK.

“Well done to our other finalists and to all of our other YKC members who were nominated this year. They truly deserve the recognition for all of their hard work, time and dedication that they put into helping the lives of dogs.”

The category winners were each invited to Crufts 2020 on Sunday 8th   March for a special presentation ceremony in the YKC ring where they each received an exclusive ambassador’s badge and award.

For further information about Crufts visit If you would like to find out more about the Young Kennel Club and how to join please email the YKC team or visit

Crufts took place from 5–8 March 2020 at the NEC, Birmingham. For more information, visit