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Haverhill dog trainer, 12, shortlisted for national award three years after the loss of his dad



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A schoolboy who found solace in training his dad's dogs after he died in a road collision has been shortlisted for a national young person of the year award - and has earned a place at Crufts.

Lewis Garstang, 12, took on the training of his dad Steve's two dogs (Rosie, a seven-year-old collie cross and Willow, a four-year-old Labrador/collie cross) after he was killed on May 22, 2018 when the HGV he was driving collided with a car transporter on the A1 in North Yorkshire.

And now the manner in which Lewis, of Rowan Close in Haverhill, has coped with his loss and grief, while also excelling at dog agility competitions with his four-legged charges, has earned him a place in the final of the Kennel Club Young Person of the Year Award - in the Personal Achievement category.

Lewis Garstang training Rosie at the Ace Agility school in Glemsford. Picture by Lynnette Garstang
Lewis Garstang training Rosie at the Ace Agility school in Glemsford. Picture by Lynnette Garstang

Lewis, currently in Year 7 at Castle Manor Academy in Haverhill having previously attended Burton End Primary Academy, will find out if he has won when the winner is announced during the Kennel Club's Discover Dogs event at The ExCel London on November 21-22.

Lewis' mum Lynnette said he has been attending dog agility shows since he was in a pushchair, and the pair can be found most weekends from Easter to October in their caravan at agility competitions across the nation.

She added: "He took on the dogs' training and competes with them at shows and they are not the easiest to train because they are rescue and he has got his own issues to deal with, his grief and anger at losing his dad.

Lewis Garstang putting Rosie through her paces during training with Ace Agility in Glemsford. Picture by Lynnette Garstang
Lewis Garstang putting Rosie through her paces during training with Ace Agility in Glemsford. Picture by Lynnette Garstang

"He has overcome so much and he is so kind and patient with the dogs in the agility ring.

"If they go wrong or don't listen he doesn't get cross, he's so gentle with them and gives them time.

"I suppose he does find great comfort in the dogs.

"Dogs are very good at sensing your emotions. If he is upset or angry or cross they know something is wrong."

Lewis Garstang at an agility show this year with his dogs Rosie and Willow. Submitted picture
Lewis Garstang at an agility show this year with his dogs Rosie and Willow. Submitted picture

Lewis, who trains at Ace Agility in Glemsford has also qualified for the Crufts Dog Show next March.

He will compete with Teasel, one of his mum's two dogs, in the Young Kennel Club jumping category and with Rosie in the Agility Dog of the Year competition.

Of his own achievements, Lewis said: "I'm doing something that I love and I'm doing something with the dogs. I'm quite excited by it (the award).

Lewis Garstang at home with Rosie, left, and Willow, right.
Lewis Garstang at home with Rosie, left, and Willow, right.

"I am nervous but my nervousness is just turning into excitement."

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