March 12, 2018
Mayor's praise for Burnham-On-Sea dog lover after emotional Crufts win

Burnham-On-Sea's Mayor has praised a devoted Burnham-On-Sea dog owner after her rescue dog won a coveted top award at Crufts yesterday (Sunday).

Vanessa Holbrow - known to many in Burnham as Ness - and her re-homed Border Terrier, called Sir Jack Spratticus, won the Crufts 2018 Friends for Life award, which shines a light on rescue dogs who play a leading role in helping people battle adversity.

Pop star and 'Spice Girl' Geri Horner (formerly Halliwell) announced Sir Jack as the winner, leading to emotional scenes as Ness tearfully accepted the award.

The dog is credited with saving Ness' life after helping her overcome various mental health problems.

Sir Jack was crowned the proud winner after attracting the most votes in a public poll across the UK that attracted over 22,000 votes in total. Ness thanked all those who supported her and Jack, saying it means a "tremendous amount to her."

Ness added: "I am in absolute disbelief and am so proud of Jack. He had such a bad start in life and it took me a year to train him, but this just shows what love and patience can do."

"He is training to be an official assistance dog, he helps to raise awareness of mental health issues and he is my family. I don’t know what I would do without him."

Burnham and Highbridge's Mayor Bill Hancock told "It's fantastic that she and Jack have won, I am incredibly pleased and so chuffed for her."

"Their story is such an emotional one, given what they've gone through, and I know it really touches everyone in the area. They are so deserving of this Crufts win - I think their story should be made into a film."

Ness, as winner, receives £5,000 from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust for the dog charity of their choice, and other finalists have also received £1,000 towards their own canine charities.

Ness told "Jack has been a Godsend for me and has had a huge impact on my life."

Jack helped her recover from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), Dissociative Disorders (DD) and an eating disorder.

Geri Horner, formally Halliwell, said: "Before Vanessa, people had given up on Jack, but Vanessa never did, and Jack never gave up on Vanessa, which makes this such a beautiful partnership. This competition epitomises what Crufts is about - we care for dogs, and they care for us as well."

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club secretary, said: "Huge congratulations to Vanessa and Jack for their incredible win – their story is so moving and inspiring, it really shows how dogs can transform the lives of their owners."

"We have had some amazing finalists for this year’s Friends for Life competition, and they all should be extremely proud to have got through to the final five."

"Each finalist has helped to change and improve the quality of their owner’s life, showing unwavering loyalty and they are a great example of the incredible difference that dogs can make to people’s lives."

Speaking before Sunday's win, she added: "Jack deserves to be at Crufts - his journey from a rescue dog is extraordinary. I rehomed him at 13 months and I was his fourth home. He was a considerable challenge initially because of his agressive behaviour."

"We spent many weeks in dog training classes and we even had to go in a broom cupboard initially during lessons because of Jack's terrible behaviour. He had a lot to learn."

"Since then, he's become a wonderful pet and an incredibly special loving companion for me."

"He's had to cope with long breaks away from me while I have been in hospital, but he has been there to help me recover. He's taught me what love is."

"He's such a wonderully friendly dog who's loved by a lot of people in Burnham-On-Sea."

"We found Canine Generated Independence last year and he's now training to be my assistance dog."

Jack is among five rescue dogs who were up for the Crufts' 2018 Friends for Life award, which shines a light on VIP dogs who play a leading role in helping people battle adversity.

Selected from over 300 applicants by judges from The Kennel Club, each of the finalists was chosen from five distinct categories before being entered for an all-important public vote to name the top dog at an awards ceremony.

Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko said: "Friends For Life is an opportunity to celebrate these dogs that quietly go about changing people's lives in their own unique and special way."

Pictured: The emotional scenes at the show in Birmingham on Sunday (Photos: Crufts / Kennel Club / /

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