LAST WEEK I promised a column that was bit more upbeat, that focused on something positive going on in the world of dogs here in the UK and I’m pleased to say it’s a project that I am very closely involved with.

You have all heard of Jilly’s Jolly Jaunt, and hopefully you’ll have seen some of the video that was filmed during the week-long 140 mile walk undertaken by Gavin Robertson and Amelia Siddle back in June. En route Gavin and Amelia were joined by dozens of dog folk from all breeds and all groups all keen to help Gavin – who handled Ch Soletrader Peek a Boo to best in show at Crufts in March – turn a dream into a reality. The walk was an outstanding success, raising just short of £50,000 for good causes and more significantly bringing the world of dogs together in a quite remarkable way.

The story could have ended there. A full stop could have been put to proceedings two weeks ago after the funds from the Jolly Jaunt were distributed to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London, DogLost, a charity which helps reunite owners with their lost dogs and to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. But rather than seeing that distribution of funds as an end we should see it instead as a beginning and now it’s time to announce the next chapter in the story.

On March 5 next year – the night before Crufts 2014 opens its doors – the first ever ‘Pawscars’ award ceremony will be held in the Metropole Hotel on the National Exhibition Centre campus, just minutes away from where the greatest dog show in the world is staged. The awards will recognise success, hard work and effort in all areas of the pedigree dog show scene, they are about celebrating all that is good on the UK dog show scene. What’s even better is they will raise more money for good causes and some of the biggest businesses that serve the world of dogs are already lined up to offer their support with insurance company Petplan leading the way.

But the Pawscars is just half the story because March 2014 will mark the launch of the ‘Peek A Boo’ trust, which is being set up to encourage fundraising throughout the world of pedigree dogs here in the UK and hopefully as things develop we might be able to pull in support from overseas. I know a lot of Best In Show Daily readers donated money during the Jilly’s Jolly Jaunt sponsored walk. The trust and its trustees will be charged with disbursing the money that is raised. Cash will go to children’s and canine charities. Of course not every fund raising effort will be as big as Jilly’s Jolly Jaunt and those of us who are organizing the Pawscars and are setting up the framework for the trust hope to encourage donations from events of all kinds, some which might raise just a few pounds and others that will raise several thousands.

The idea for the Peek a Boo Trust and for the Pawscars was devised by Gavin and I and in the last few weeks we have been busily encouraging businesses to come on board to support the event.

When we were discussing how the enthusiasm generated by the Jolly Jaunt could be harnessed and built upon Gavin told me: “I was just blown away by the support we received for Jilly’s Jolly Jaunt and it’s not just about the amount of money we’ve raised – it’s about the support we received from all over the UK and abroad. It was heart-warming to see the way the world of dogs got behind the idea and demonstrated its support in so many ways. And of course at the end of the day we raised almost £50,000!

“When we came up with the idea of the walk in my wildest dreams I thought we might manage to raise £25,000, so to end up with almost twice that amount is a tribute to everyone who offered their help, support and encouragement along the way.”

At Dog World we were keen to get behind the Jolly Jaunt from the outset and we were amazed to watch the total raised rise and rise. I took part in the final day of the walk which took us through the streets of London via the Kennel Club to Great Ormond Street Hospital – you might have seen the pictures – and I felt truly honoured to be part of it. It was then that I started to have the kernel of an idea about setting up a trust to keep the good work going.

I sent Gavin some ideas and we arranged to meet up for a chat at Windsor championship show at the end of June and there we discovered we had both been thinking along similar lines. Shortly afterwards at a meeting in a service station just off the M25 the concept for the Pawscars and the Peek a Boo Trust was born.

There will be a total of 14 awards presented on the night. These will be Championship Show of the Year, sponsored by Eukanuba; Training class of the Year and Breeder of the Year sponsored by Royal Canin; Journalist of the Year sponsored by Premier Animal Housing; Exhibitor of the Year sponsored by Dorwest; Junior Handler of the Year sponsored by Dog World; Steward of the Year sponsored by the Kennel Club; Trade stand of the Year sponsored by Fosse Data; Open Show of the Year sponsored by Lintbells and Breed Note Writer of the Year sponsored by Arden Grange. Sponsors for Judge of the Year, Photographer of the Year and Unsung Hero, are still to be confirmed and an award for outstanding achievement will be sponsored by the trust itself.

And so the work begins to make sure the Pawscars make their mark. We hope the Pawscars will become an annual event and that a nomination in one of the categories will become a highly sought after accolade. And selection of the winners will be by the public at large, at the end of the year people will be able to vote for a shortlist of nominees either online or from a ballot form in the pages of Dog World. I’ll look forward to keeping you up to date with our progress.