Accredited instructor of the year winner announced at Crufts

Success for dog trainer from East Sussex

Judy Hempstead from Heathfield, East Sussex has been awarded The Kennel Club Accredited Instructor of the Year award, as part of the Accredited Instructor Awards ceremony which took place at the world’s greatest dog show, Crufts, on Saturday 12 March.

The awards recognise inspirational dog training instructors who have made a positive difference to the lives of owners and their dogs. Judy was nominated by family, friends and clients, in recognition of her work in both obedience with gundogs, and her ability to foster a connection between dogs and their owners, which leads to a fun and engaging environment.

Judy is accredited in Working Gundogs, but also has an understanding of a number of canine disciplines, across conformation, agility, hoopers, rally and canicross. She established the Working Minority Retriever Club to support owners of minority breeds through advice and training, and it is this commitment to working dog breeds that has led
Judy to be seen as a trailblazer and mentor, particularly for young handlers.

This was particularly true during lockdown, where Judy employed a variety of methods to keep in touch with trainees, through online training, demonstrations and challenges for people to work on at home. Following the easing of restrictions, Judy organised smaller groups to train on open ground, staggering her classes to ensure a Covid-safe working environment.

In addition to the award, Judy was also presented with a £500 donation from The Kennel Club Educational Trust in order to further her involvement with dogs.

Speaking about winning her award, Judy said: “I’m very excited about having been awarded instructor of the year! It has been a difficult time trying to get training established during Covid, but it is nice to be rewarded as I have tried different methods to keep things going through the pandemic. I am really overwhelmed! Being awarded and recognised for all I have achieved over this period of time was very emotional!”

The purpose of The Kennel Club Accredited Instructor 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. 

This year’s judging panel included Paul Rawlings, Accredited Instructors scheme Chairman; Kathryn Mansfield, Kennel Club Secretary and Janine Beacher, representative from City and Guilds.

David Phillips, Managing Director, Skills Credentialing at City and Guilds, said: “We’re delighted and honoured to continue our ongoing relationship with The Kennel Club Accredited Instructors scheme. Maintaining and promoting high standards of animal welfare and professionalism in the canine industry is a vital priority and we’re proud to provide the instructors with the recognition they deserve for their hard work and dedication.”

Kathryn Mansfield, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “Many congratulations to Judy for this very well-deserved win.  The nominations she received are a real testament to how grateful so many people are for her contribution to the world of dogs, particularly during such a turbulent few years as a result of the pandemic. The Kennel Club is very thankful for the valuable work she continues to do.

“This year’s Accredited Instructor awards proved very popular, and we’re proud of all the members who were nominated. It’s great to see that 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.”

For further information on the Accredited Instructor scheme, please visit The Kennel Clubs KCAI page.

For more information and results from Crufts, please visit the Crufts website.