Being introduced to gun dogs at a young age by my father, a rough shoot and rabbiting enthusiast; in 1978 I was given my first Labrador, Gunstock Sally - a black bitch, with whom I forged a close bond.
Becoming increasingly serious about my new hobby; a growing interest in handling led me to attend the gallery at Checkley Wood Field Trial in 1986. This made such an impression that I telephoned Sandra Halstead that night to reserve a black Labrador - Drakeshead Matt.
First success came in 1989 during my very first novice trial with the Three Ridings Labrador Retriever Club.
The elation of bringing that Winning Trophy home meant I was hooked! As my handling developed, I set myself three goals:
To make a dog up to Field Trial Champion-(now achieved seven times). To win an IGL Retriever Championship-(there have been 4 since 2003). Be selected for the England Team-(first achieved at the Game Fair 2006).
Those early years were invaluable in moulding me into a handler who has now qualified 19 times for the I.G.L. Retriever Championship, winning it on four occasions; as well as making up Seven Field Trial Champions. Those ambitions have taken me far and in 2010 I made the decision to give up a full-time career as a coach builder with Bentley Motors and turn professional with my dogs.
At this time I also relocated to Austria with my new wife Stefanie; a professional dog trainer, breeder (Ragweed's) and member of the Austrian Gundog Team.
I am sponsored by GUNDOG GEAR whose excellent range of quality products for gun dog equipment and clothing is in constant use by me and my dogs. Owners Gary and Emma McCarthy are good friends; with Gary being a brilliant training partner when I visit his purpose built training ground in the Wirral.
In 2015 I was pleased to be sponsored SNEY'DS WONDERFOODS.Sneyd’s is a family owned and operated company incorporating three generations of the same family and over 30 years of experience in manufacturing quality pet food products for the working mans' pocket. We have fed Wonderdog for a couple of years now and are very happy with the condition of our dogs.
My thanks also go to Trans K9 who kindly supported me by supplying me with an excellent dog box and also to Skinners Dog Foods for providing their assistance in sponsoring the International Skinners World Cup and many other events from club level, to help promote our sport.
When John Halstead retired after the 2014 C.L.A. Game Fair; I was chosen to embark upon a new challenge - that of England Retriever Team Captain. Whilst John is a hard act to follow; I have some experience of the role from being in caretaker charge during 2011; when I was doubly proud as the England Team won the World Cup and Game Fair that year. Having the continued support and friendship of John and Sandra Halstead, is invaluable and greatly appreciated.
The role brings with it new pressures and challenges, not least the knowledge that the other European teams are coming up fast; meaning a home nation win is no longer a certainty. I will however strive to win every prize I can in the 5 years of my captaincy.