Winner of the individual final at Midlands Handler of the Year was Jane Cryer, a member of the Lucky Number team, handling a Parson Jack Russell, with Joanne Marsh, a member of the winning team The Southerns, runner-up handling a GSP. The judges from left to right were Bob Bouttell, Jenny Clifford, Deb Bouttell and Jo House
Winning team at the recent Midlands Handler of the Year event for the third year running were the Southerns made up of Lauren Vincent and Jo Marsh who have stuck to the same breed each time, a Flatcoat and GSP respectively, Emma Bugler, who this year switched to an American Cocker from her usual English Springer, and Charlotte Boyle competing with an Italian Greyhound instead of a Tibetan Terrier.
Pushing them hard all the way were the team named Lucky Number, who had among its members Jane Cryer, handling a Parson Russell, who was the only person to gain a perfect score of 25 under any of the judges. Its other members were Jodie Harrison with a Standard Poodle, Jo Junemann with a Border Collie and Hannah Bedding with an American Cocker.
Both these teams qualified all four members through to the final, with two more coming from the third placed team, the Odd Bods. These were Alan and Mary Small, both handling GSP, who also represented the over 35s in the final.
Coming fourth were the Whipper Snappers, with Midas Alpha Handlers I fifth.
The event itself stuck to the same winning format that has proved so popular, but this year a special final to find the best handler over the age of 35 was added. It did mean even more work for our judges Jo House, Jenny Clifford and husband and wife team Bob Bouttell and Deb Bouttell, but they coped admirably.
Coming out top was June Redfern, part of Midas Alpha I, handling a Sheltie who at just 8 months old gave a wonderful performance in each round. Team mate L Griffin handling a Cocker came in second with Penny Dunkley also with a Cocker, representing Alcester Ringcraft I, taking third.
In the separate junior handling event, judged by John Francis, Nicola Williams repeated last year’s win of the under 12 section, but went one better by taking the Best Overall title as well. Second in the under 12s was Wayne Clarke, with Sam Rowley third. In the 12 to 17 year section the winner was Shelley Brook, followed by Shannon Thomas and Stephanie Lansdell.
The juniors also gave us a winner in the best dressed awards when Phyllis Taylor selected Wayne Clarke to top the men. Jean Selby was picked out by Paul Hayes to top the ladies.
The finale of the competition is an invite to the top ten scorers (or 11 this year as two shared tenth highest score) to compete for the Midland Handler of the Year individual title.
Bob Bouttell was given charge of the ring with the other three judges taking up other vantage points to score the handlers once more. Their winner, competing at this event for the first time, was Jane Cryer handling a Parson Russell, with Joanne Marsh second, Charlotte Boyle third, Emma Bulger fourth and Alan Small with a German Shorthaired Pointer fifth.
Despite the enjoyment this competition has brought over its 13-year history, sadly its future hangs in the balance. In the past the competition enjoyed generous sponsorship, often covering venue costs, allowing substantial donations to charity. But modern economics put a stop to the availability of this level of generosity a few years ago and, despite increasing contributions from committee members to counteract escalating costs, the event has regularly needed to dip into its reserves to cover some expenses and enable continued, if smaller, charitable donations. Obviously this can not continue indefinitely, so the committee are looking at alternative venues and will meet again shortly. Secretary Mrs Maureen Godson can be contacted on 01789 764715.