Emma keeps mum's legacy alive with top four finish at Crufts

Emma Herring (left) with Bertie, and his owners Tracey and Steve Coulman-Hole of Womlu Mastiffs.

Emma Herring (left) with Bertie, and his owners Tracey and Steve Coulman-Hole of Womlu Mastiffs. - Credit: Emma Herring

A dog groomer who has been keeping her mum's legacy alive after she died in a crash nearly a decade ago has done her proud by landing a top four finish at Crufts.

Emma Herring, from Litcham, along with Bertie, the mastiff, was awarded fourth place in the Working Group at the national dog show, along with best of breed following the weekend-long event between March 10 to 13.

She was in the car with her mum, Kim Dodd-Utting, when she was killed back in February 2013 as they were travelling towards Norwich on the A47.

Mrs Herring has been showing alongside Bertie for the past two years, who belongs to her friends Steve and Tracey Coulman-Hole of Womlu Mastiffs, who live in Battle, East Sussex.

They suggested that she work with Bertie in 2020, and from there the pair have grown alongside each other, winning all bar two events they have entered finishing as winners of Top Mastiff 2021 in the UK.

The idea could not have come at a better time, as the 39-year-old was recovering from knee surgery following lasting injuries from the 2013 crash.

Emma Herring (left) with Bertie after winning Working Group four at Crufts.

Emma Herring (left) with Bertie after winning Working Group four at Crufts. - Credit: Emma Herring

“I was struggling with recovery, it took me seven months instead of two that the doctor expected,” she said.

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“Tracey and Steve suggested I handled Bertie, and that gave me something to work towards as I wanted to get stronger.

“It was a massive help, he gave me something to focus on. I have been showing since I was seven so it's always been a big part of life, and this gave me something to look forward to and get stronger for so I could do him justice.

“We have a strong relationship and we adore each other, we get in the ring and it is all about us two.”

Kim Utting died in a crash on the A47 last week.

Emma Herring mum, Kim Dodd-Utting. Who died in 2013. - Credit: Archant

Mrs Herring, who has competed at Crufts since 1990 followed in her mother’s footsteps, who also won top honours at the competition in 2008 with her own mastiffs.

Mrs Herring, who runs K9 Klipz in Litcham, said: “It been fantastic, my grandparents phoned on Thursday and they were watching us on TV and they know how important it was to mum. It is an extremely special and extremely important moment for us.”

The pair are not slowing down anytime soon, as they are off to Ireland at the weekend for another show, before going onto Paris and Belgium for more competitions.