A young girl from Sutton, whose love for dogs has helped her overcome barriers in her personal life, has been put forward to receive a prestigious award at Crufts 2017.
Daisy Buckland, of Roods Close, has selective mutism and Asperger’s Syndrome, which means she finds it hard to interact and speak with adults outside of her home environment.
But the 15-year-old schoolgirl has shown remarkable, new confidence since building a relationship with her pet dog, a Border Terrier called Charlie.
And now she is one of five inspirational members of the Young Kennel Club to be nominated for an annual award that celebrates the hard-working and selfless actions of young canine fans.
Daisy has already won the club’s Young Braveheart of the Year accolade. Now, at Crufts, the world’s biggest dog show, she will discover if she has landed the Shaun McAlpine Outstanding Young Person honour too. The winner will be unveiled on the final day of the show at Birmingham’s NEC Arena on Sunday, March 12.
“It’s so cool to be one of the five finalists,” said Daisy, a pupil at Sutton Community Academy. “I’m so excited and I can’t wait to go to Crufts.
“I love dogs and I really enjoy being at Crufts because it inspired me to start agility classes with my dog, Charlie, and join the Young Kennel Club. “I feel really honoured, happy and excited to be nominated.”
Since taking part in agility sessions with Charlie, Daisy’s family have noticed a dramatic change in her. Her self-esteem and self-belief have flourished as she has stepped out of her comfort-zone.
She has entered competitions with Charlie, and they have won multiple rosettes. She is thrilled to be recognised for her efforts, and will hope to scoop a prize of up to £750 that is on offer for the winner of the Shaun McAlpine award.
The winner will be decided via an online vote that is open to all on Facebook. All five finalists will receive an exclusive Young Kennel Club ambassador’s badge and award, designed to encourage them to continue their devotion to dogs into adulthood.
The club’s chairman, Gerald King, said: “Congratulations to all our finalists. They are a credit to their generation, and their stories really highlight the difference a dog can make in a person’s life, or vice-versa.
“Each year, we receive incredible entries for young people, and everyone who received a nomination should be proud of the work they have achieved.”
The award has been presented at Crufts for more than 20 years by Ed and Cindy McAlpine in memory of their son Shaun, who achieved considerable success as a dog handler before he was tragically killed in a road accident just two weeks before his 22nd birthday in 1984.