A talented teenager from Brookenby has shown she is a cut above the rest to win a top award at this year’s Crufts competition.
Connie Critcher was named Young Groomer of the Year in what was only her first major competition.
“I don’t think it has all really sunk in yet,” said a delighted Connie.
“It was incredible to win my group, but then when they said I was the overall winner it was amazing - my dad was crying, my mum was crying, everyone was crying.
“And to hear everyone say they are proud of me - I am just really happy.”
Open to people up to the age of 24, the competition was organised by the Young Kennel Club, which Connie qualified for after winning the heats at Newark.
And, of course, Connie couldn’t have won anything without her model, six-year-old English cocker spaniel Gracie.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the pair, who faced a near disaster on the day.
“We had to walk quite a way from the carpark to the NEC building and it was pouring with rain.
“Gracie was in her pushchair, but she still managed to get soaking wet and you can’t clip a wet dog.
“I had forgotten her towel too, so I had to dry her with my jacket - but it all worked out ok in the end.”
Now Connie is preparing for her next competition - Mastergroom, at Cheltenham in April.
And she is also preparing for her final exam in her level three diploma in dog grooming at Grimsby Institute.
Connie began studying animal care after leaving school at 16, but it was the grooming side of things that caught her imagination.
College staff recognised her grooming skills and now, as well as studying, she is employed by the college as a grooming technician, helping to teach others.
“They picked me on my ability, which is really great,” she said.