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Fran McWade was a member of the Young Kennel Club for 15 years and these days she's a police officer. We caught up with her to find out how how the YKC has helped her get to where she is today.
I joined the YKC as a member when I was about 9 or 10 years old, so I was a member for around 15 years. Even though I'm too old now, I still get involved as much as I can. I can't seem to keep away and will jump at every opportunity given to me! So I've been with the YKC around 18 years!
As a member I mostly competed in the handling competitions and occasionally the stakes. I also entered one of the last biathlon and triathlon competitions being placed 5th in both! I went to a lot of the training events and activities hosted by the YKC with my mum. At the training weekends and camps I tried all of the activities on offer - agility, obedience, flyball, heelwork to music - I loved them all! My mum was also able to get involved at camp with activities and would bring my older sister who would also get involved.
I'm a police officer. It's a very rewarding career and I enjoy that everyday is different and that I can help the community in which I work in.
I studied Public Services at college followed by a fast track degree in Psychology and Criminology.
I have competed at Crufts in breed and YKC handling. I love being able to compete on the green carpet in a new suit and catch up with friends from all over the country. I've been privileged to have been placed in both breed and handling which is always memorable. When I was a YKC member I would volunteer in the YKC ring and on the membership stand at Crufts. I have also been lucky enough to commentate live on the YKC ring!
I will always love handling, but I find the agility and heelwork to music fascinating and so entertaining to watch. I don't compete with my dogs anymore, but we enjoy dog walks and snuggling on the sofa with films and blankets. I have in the past also stewarded as well as judged at limit open and championship dog shows in both breed and handling.
I absolutely love the YKC. I get to catch up with friends from all over the UK and it has filled me with confidence in so many aspects of my life. I have developed life skills which have assisted me in my career. I spoke about the YKC in my final interview when becoming a police officer. I was able to use the YKC for so many examples of skills and behaviour required by the Police Force, these included leadership and teamwork.
I've volunteered for the YKC as a senior member and even though I'm too old to be a member now, I still volunteer as much as I can, as I know how important the YKC is to its members. I love being able to help out as much as I can. One of the reasons as I've already mentioned is I get to see my friends and I enjoy being able to give something back to the YKC. It's amazing to see the members develop their skills and confidence as the training day/weekends come to an end.
Join, join, join! If you love dogs and are aged 6-24 years why wouldn't you? It's the best place to make friends who also have a love of dogs and it's the best place to learn new skills in a fun and friendly environment. You get taught so much more than dog activities. The YKC has given me so many opportunities, including commentating at Crufts and placing the group boards in the main arena. I've had some of the most memorable moments at YKC camp as a member and a team leader! All of these opportunities and more are available if you become a member of the YKC. They will always support their members and help each member achieve their goals, whether that's competing or training in dog activities or for anything else outside of the dog show world.