One of the best known dogs of 2013, Crufts Best in Show winner Jilly, will be joined by celebrities and stars of the two- and four-legged variety as she and her owner, Gavin Robertson, undertake a 130-mile sponsored walk to raise money for charities, including Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.
Jilly, a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen whose pedigree name is Ch Soletrader Peek a Boo, will start ‘Jilly’s Jolly Jaunt’ at the NEC in Birmingham, where she was crowned as the winner of the Crufts Best in Show competition in March this year, to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, on the week commencing 10th June 2013.
Sixty percent of the money raised from the walk will go to Great Ormond Street Hospital, 35 percent to DogLost organisation and five percent to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.
Gavin Robertson and Jilly will be joined at various stages by previous Crufts Best in Show winners, group winners from Crufts 2013, healthy examples of the 14 High Profile Breeds monitored by the Kennel Club for their health and welfare and representatives of all of those on the Kennel Club’s ‘Vulnerable Native Breeds’ list , because their numbers are so low. Amelia Siddle, who won the Junior Warrant competition at Crufts and who has completed a painting of Jilly and Gavin, which will be auctioned after the walk, will be completing the whole 130 miles with her dog Flo, alongside Jilly and Gavin.
Dog owning celebrities are also being urged to lend their support to the walk, with Emma Bunton already pledging to get behind the walk and promote it on social media to her dog-owning fans. Those invited to join the walk must each raise a minimum of £100.
Speaking about the walk, Gavin Robertson said: “I wanted to use the profile that our Crufts Best in Show win gave us to do something for deserving causes. Outside of the show ring Jilly is such an active dog, so I know that she’ll have no problem walking 130 miles, but I think I now need to start my training regime. I hope that the walk highlights how healthy and happy pedigree show dogs are and what active lives they lead outside of the show ring. I cannot believe the response already from those asked to participate in the walk or help with the logistics and planning, and from those pledging money. This truly shows how sporting and generous the dog world is.”
Rebecca Tyrrell, Senior Fundraising Executive from Great Ormond Street Hospital, said: “We are delighted that Gavin and Jilly are taking on this wonderful challenge to help raise vital funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. The money will go towards the essential redevelopment of the hospital which will help us to continue to deliver world-class care to more children.”
Nik Oakley, spokesperson for DogLost, said: “DogLost is delighted to be one of the beneficiaries of Jilly’s Jolly Jaunt as it recognises the valuable work that we do in reuniting missing dogs with their owners. Jilly is a very special dog and we are looking forward to being involved in such a magnificent effort to highlight such worthy causes. DogLost is run entirely by volunteers and funded solely by donation. Jilly’s Jolly Jaunt will help us to continue to offer our free, nationwide service both online and on the ground.” DogLost reunited 5,252 dogs with their owners in 2012.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “We are so proud of Gavin and Jilly for undertaking this challenge and for raising money for good causes, including the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. The dogs that compete at Crufts have to be in great shape so she will be well prepared for this challenge, and we wish them, and all of the dogs and people that join them en route, the best of luck.”
Full details of the route that Gavin and Jilly will be taking, and where and when celebrities will be joining Jilly, can be found on the dedicated website www.jillysjaunt.co.uk.