Crufts_2016-5851RETIRED gamekeeper Dylan Thomas was celebrating after taking the top trophy as the overall winner of the BASC Gamekeepers’ classes at Crufts for the second time in eight years.

Dylan, from North Wales, lifted the Northesk Memorial Trophy with 15-month-old Welsh Springer Spaniel Ben after qualifying for the main ring for the 19th time in 23 visits to the world’s biggest dog show.

He had swept the board in various classes throughout the day, but saved the best until last as the pair beat off tough competition from five other finalists to repeat his triumph of 2008.

“I never dreamed I would be winning this beautiful trophy for a second time,” Dylan said. “This has been a very special day, but Ben is a special dog.”

“I’ve always said that having a dog makes you happy, and this little fella has made me very happy today. I am delighted. I have to pay tribute to his breeder, Anna Harrison, from Derbyshire, for producing such a magnificent dog.”

Dylan and Ben, who has the kennel name Glenbrows Fire Starter, have spent the season working the Berwyn Shoot near Bala but are now lined up for a hectic summer show season.

“I love the shooting season through the winter,” Dylan added. “Crufts always marks the end of that for me and the dogs, but there will be no rest through the remainder of the year. I also love the summer shows and I’m hoping Ben will continue to do well.”

Dylan was presented with his trophy by Ian Grindy, chairman of BASC’s game and game-shooting committee, who said: “It was a fantastic day. It shows gamekeeping is still alive and well.

“Hopefully, this will encourage more people to participate. Crufts is a fantastic opportunity to put your dog and your estate into the spotlight. It’s great fun and good entertainment. I congratulate everybody who took part, especially Dylan for winning the overall title.”

Garry Doolan

Garry Doolan is BASC’s deputy director of communications and public affairs. He has more than 20 years experience of journalism and the media. He joined the organisation in 2016 and is a keen shooter and beater, with his springer spaniel Quincy.

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