Ten inspirational young people nominated for major award

The Kennel Club has revealed the finalists for the prestigious Young Kennel Club Young Person of the Year award. The accolade celebrates the dedicated, inspirational and selfless actions of young dog lovers, all of whom are members of the Young Kennel Club (YKC). 

The YKC Young Person of the Year award is the highest achievement for young people who are passionate about dogs and recognises those who are going above and beyond to help transform the lives of others, as well as encouraging their peers to make a difference with the help of their canine friends.  

The two winners of each category have been chosen by the YKC team at The Kennel Club, with the overall winner – decided by a public vote – to be announced at London’s biggest dog event, Discover Dogs, at ExCeL London, on Saturday 20 November. 

For over 30 years, Ed and Cindy McAlpine have presented the Shaun McAlpine Trophy to the winner of the award, in memory of their son who sadly died. Shaun had himself achieved considerable success as a dog handler.

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

This year’s finalists are:

Community Award winners
Celebrating young people who show commitment and passion through social action – fundraising, campaigning, activities at school, college or community for the welfare of dogs over the past year.
  • Emily Williams, aged 17 - Emily dedicates her time between raising funds for different animals and charities whilst also working as a qualified dog trainer and hoopers instructor at her local dog training class, run by volunteers. During the pandemic, Emily set up a donation box to help street dogs in Greece by collecting donations of doggy items such as food, collars and leads, and sent them to Greece, whilst also helping many people in the UK with the care and exercise of their dogs when they were unwell. Throughout lockdown, she also created free puppy training videos for owners who needed an extra helping hand.
  • Maria Louise Clark, aged 24 - Maria is a passionate fundraiser and has raised impressive amounts of money for various charities over the past six years. In 2017, following her grandad’s cancer diagnosis, Maria shaved her hair live on Facebook, raising over £1,500 for Cancer Research. Maria has also run online dog shows for charities such as Dogs for Good, RAF Benevolent Fund for Hounds and Heroes, as well as live shows in Devon in aid of The Snowdrop Appeal. It’s not just dogs that Maria is looking out for though, as during the first lockdown in 2020, Maria ran an online auction for the local zoo that returns cats to the wild and raised over £1,200 which helped to feed many of the animals.
Compassion Award winners
Celebrating young people who dedicate their time volunteering to help others or where their job is to put others before themselves.
  • Rosie Shepherd, aged 24 - Rosie has worked on the frontline during the pandemic, having qualified as a nurse only six months before. She supported not only those with Covid but families who are unable to visit their loved ones. Rosie’s caring and compassionate nature shone through before becoming a nurse, having cared for her granny in hospital whilst she was in sixth form herself. A member since the age of eight, Rosie continues to volunteer for the Young Kennel Club and organises and runs a number of events, including the YKC Autumn weekend.
  • Millie Youngs, aged 16 - Millie has proven to be a real support to her older brother throughout her childhood, including many operations and hospital visits, and is currently training her dog to become a service dog for him. In addition, she also started her own agility club where she dedicates her own time to help other people to bond with and train their dogs.
Personal Achievement Award winners
Celebrating young people who have overcome personal challenges with their dog, as well as the skills they have developed to achieve success.
  • Lewis Steven Garstang, aged 11 - Following the tragic loss of his dad in 2018, Lewis took on the training and running of his dogs, Rosie and Willow, in agility. Both rescue dogs, the two have very different behavioural challenges and needs, but Lewis has continued to persevere with their training and has built up a very strong bond with the pair of them. Despite having experienced such a tough time in his life, both dogs continue to bring Lewis a lot of comfort and vice versa.
  • Emily Rice, aged 15 - After a very difficult year, Emily has made huge strides with her mental health thanks to the help and support from professionals and headed back to school with an assistance dog. Emily is now helping others by spreading awareness of mental health challenges and suicide, proving to be an inspiration for not only everything she’s overcome, but also for looking out for others.
Creative Talent Award winners
Celebrating young people who have managed to keep positive by being creative. This award is for those who have honed existing creative skills, or developed a skill that they will carry forward with them, during lockdown.
  • Isabel Patten, aged 13 - With her favourite activity, dog agility, significantly impacted over the last year of lockdowns and restrictions, Isabel used the time to learn new crafts whilst also raising money for charity. Using upcycled material, Isabel made her own facemasks and sold them to her local community, friends and family, with the money raised going to Many Tears Dog Rescue and Colchester Zoo. To date, Isabel has made over 200 facemasks and raised nearly £300. She has since diversified her offerings to make slippers, peg bags, cushions and dog toys from materials such as old jeans and scrap material, and also knitted more than 60 ‘Bunnies of Hope’ over Easter 2021 and raised £155 for a local cancer charity. Not stopping there, Isabel is now making poppies (including purple versions for the war animals) and taking donations for the Royal British Legion.
  • Rebecca Colley, aged 21 - Having already displayed a talent for photography, Rebecca used the unexpected extra time in lockdown to support others to capture not only exceptional images, but also lasting memories of their faithful pets. Her skills later developed into a fully-fledged business in 2020, whilst still organising activities to encourage many young photographers in getting creative with their dogs during the many lockdowns.
Inspiring Others Award winners
Celebrating young people and their dogs who, through their positive attitude and inspirational approach, have proved to be a good role model.
  • Charlotte Baker, aged 18 - After the death of her brother, Charlotte turned to her dogs to help her through her grief. Proving to not only be a support, they have also been by her side as she has competed in a number of activities and competitions with them, including the UKA Grand Finals twice, winning the Junior Masters agility and competing at Crufts twice, among many other achievements. Charlotte has also organised several fundraising events and helped to raise thousands of pounds for Child Bereavement UK, as well as collecting packing hundreds of Christmas shoeboxes for orphanages in Serbia and Bulgaria every year.
  • Danielle Wilson, aged 12 - In the past few years, Danielle has won the Scottish Junior Handler of the Year in 1st place in 2018 and 3rd place in 2019. Outside of these achievements, she has been a pillar of strength and support for her friends during the turbulent past year of the pandemic. She is also on the Annandale Canine Association Committee and loves helping to set up on show day.
Speaking about the finalists, Vanessa McAlpine, Kennel Club Events and Youth Development Executive said: “We are so proud of these ten young finalists who are a credit to themselves, their dogs and their communities. We receive so many inspirational entries for the Young Person of the Year award and it’s such a tough task to narrow it down to just ten, but everyone who received a nomination should be so proud of their achievements.

“The finalists and their stories really sum up the passion, determination and hard work that is at the heart of the Young Kennel Club and that shines through all of our members. We are looking forward to welcoming and celebrating all ten of our inspirational young people at Discover Dogs in November.”

The overall winner of the YKC Young Person of the Year award will be decided via an online vote open to all, which can be found on the Young Kennel Club of the Year Award website.

The finalists in each category have been invited to Discover Dogs 2021 on Saturday 20 November for a special presentation ceremony and each will receive an exclusive YKC ambassador’s badge and award. Each of the winners will receive £100, donated by The Kennel Club Educational Trust, with the overall winner being awarded an additional £250, also donated by The Kennel Club Educational Trust.

To find out more about the award and Young Kennel Club membership, please visit the Young Kennel Club website.