Suffolk Dog Day

Suffolk's top day for dogs

The second Suffolk Dog Day was a huge success and raised more than £34,000 for charities and voluntary groups across the county. More than 7,000 people and their dogs poured in to support the event held at Helmingham Hall.

Early morning sunshine brought out dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds, crossbreeds and pedigrees eager to enter the 16 classes with their owners and get the canine capers underway.
On hand in the commentary team was Dudley Clarke, BBC Crufts and former Blue Peter presenter Peter Purves, and Just 42’s Micky Simpson who kept the crowd informed of all that was happening in and around the rings. BBC Radio Suffolk’s Lesley Dolphin, assisted by Suffolk Foundation’s chairman David Sheepshanks got the event underway prior to the internationally renowned Top Lodge Dancing Dogs embarking on their routines which wowed the audiences throughout the day.

Some of Suffolk’s finest Champion dogs took a bow in the grand parade, while other breeds dressed up to look like their owners or went through their paces in the agility ring or on the fun dog scurry.

“It was a great Suffolk day out,” said David Sheepshanks “and a wonderful result for all the voluntary groups throughout the county. Hopefully people left knowing more about the work and achievements of the Suffolk Foundation.”

The amount raised by dog day can be doubled to a wooferful £68,000, thanks to the Grassroots Endowment Challenge. The scheme match funds the money we made £ for £ to add to the endowment pot that will benefit the county’s charities and voluntary groups in perpetuity.

View pictures from the show by clicking here

Dancing dogs wow the crowds in Suffolk
by David Hardman

Top Lodge were delighted to be invited to entertain at this most prestigious Dog Event held in the beautiful grounds of Helmingham Hall.

The Top Lodge Team have attended many companion dog shows – but none with the organisation shown here – nor with the vast number of entries. Over 160 in one of the classes, but even though the classes took time to be judged – the audience were entertained as Peter Purves and other commentators interviewed the contestants which was very interesting to learn more about the both the pedigrees and cross breeds competing.

We were scheduled to be part of the opening programme of the day – so directly after the opening speeches and to a capacity crowd seated on the hay bales encircling the beautifully manicured arena – we set forth on our first programme.

Karen Sykes with Fly, assisted by Kath Hardman with Amber and Lesley Neville with Angus introduced the sport of Heelwork to Music and Freestyle to everyone. Karen explained the difference between the two divisions of the sport, by demonstrating all eight Heelwork positions, including changes of direction and pace for a dog competing in Heelwork To Music. This was easy for Karen who was assisted by her 8yr old Working Sheepdog Fly as they had won the 2008 Crufts Heelwork to Music Competition. This was followed by a short demonstration of various Freestyle moves including weaves, spins, and different types of jumps. Karen explained more about the sport whilst introducing Erin, her rescue puppy of just 16 weeks. Erin showed what fun learning HTM is and Karen was able to show just how much this little puppy has learnt during its 5 weeks of living with Karen.


The first routine of the day was by Kath Hardman and Tipp, a Working Sheepdog. Kath has been heavily involved in HTM since 1999 and has had a very successful career in the sport. Tipp is one of Kath’s three dogs and the oldest rescue dog in the team at 10yrs old. They performed a fast moving freestyle routine to the music “Seaside Rendezvous” by Queen.
Following on from Kath, Lesley Neville entered the arena with her 8yr old Working Beardie Angus – this very successful paring won both the Crufts Advanced and International Freestyle competitions in 2007 and for their routine they performed to “There Ain’t Nothing Like a Dame” from the musical South Pacific.

Third into the arena was Karen Sykes with her Working Sheepdog Kes, at 11 yrs old the most senior member of the Top Lodge Dancing Dog Team. Kes is a very successful Freestyle dog having competed for 8 years and for their performance they entertained the audience with a freestyle routine to “Cabaret”.

For the final performance of the first set, Kath Hardman and her 7yr old crossbreed Spice entertained with their most recent routine to “Good Morning” from Singing in the Rain.
The audience showed their appreciation with applause and after their performances the team answered many questions from the public giving advice on general training along with suggestions as to where to learn more about this enthralling sport.


The team had about 90 minutes to get their breath back for their second performances. So it was time out for them, cooling down and watching the hundreds of dogs entered in the Companion Dog Show – Most Handsome Dog, Prettiest Bitch amongst some of the classes which were all well attended.

For the second set the audience was yet again many deep around the massive arena. This time Kath Hardman with Tipp opened the proceedings with a lively HTM Routine, an Irish Dance to “Duelling Violins” from Riverdance – they performed well in the heat and danced quickly and carefully over the grass showing how fit you can become competing in Heelwork to Music!
Second into the arena was Karen Sykes with Kes – this time they performed to “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast. Karen and Kes have a glass and tray as part of the props of this routine and she was pleased to say that once again the completed the routine without dropping the glass! An unbroken record.

Following Karen and Kes were Lesley Neville with Angus – her 8 yr old Working Beardie. The music they chose was “The Beautiful Briny” from Bedknobs and Broomsticks which proved a favourite piece with the audience singing along as Angus bounced over his jumps and through the weaves.
Once again the final team to take to the ring was Kath Hardman and Spice who chose to entertain with their 2008 Crufts Freestyle and Crufts International winning routine from the Wizard of Oz, “If I Only Had A Brain”. Kath dressed as a scarecrow with boots and woollen hat certainly felt the heat as the entered the ring but Spice thoroughly enjoyed herself showing her portfolio of fast flowing moves including running the perimeter of the arena and skilfully jumping Kath as they meet from opposite directions.

Thank goodness it was time for a rest again before the team performed their final routine at the closing of the show. They had a little time to browse around the numerous trade and charity stands which encircled the Main Ring which were selling goods of fabulous quality. Other attractions were a dog scurry and chasing the rabbit but the Top Lodge dogs were too busy that day to take part. The team even managed to fit in an interview which will be part of a 30 minute programme “Goodbye 925” to be shown on Sky 166.

More novelty classes and hundreds more competitors culminated in “The Dog Most Like Its Owner and “The Best 6 Legs”.

This was the one of the very best organised outdoor Dog Shows that Top Lodge Dancing Dogs have been involved with and the grounds of Helmingham Hall were perfect for such an event. All too soon, the last class winner had been announced and gifts of gratitude were given to Lord and Lady Tollemache, the owners of Helmingham Hall and to the Chief Organiser of the event which raised thousands on the beautiful sunny day in August for The Suffolk Foundation a Charity which aims to build a stronger community in the County by raising funds for the real needs that exist in the community.

After the final speeches the Top Lodge team were invited back into the ring for their final dance – a trio - Karen Sykes with Fly, Lesley Neville with Angus and Kath Hardman with her third dog Amber a 4 yr old Border Collie. The team took their places dressed in Greek costume and performed to Agonia and Zorba’s dance much to the approval of the audience and the on looking committee.

Top Lodge Dancing Dogs would like to thank The Suffolk Foundation for inviting them to entertain at The Suffolk Dog Day and thank them for the generous hospitality from Cara and her husband David after the event had closed.

View the dancing dogs the show by clicking here

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