A NEILSTON-BASED dog trainer is one of just five people competing for a prestigious Kennel Club award.

Martha Brindley, 61, has been selected as the only Scottish finalist in the Trainer of the Year category after being nominated by friends and customers.

The former classroom assistant has worked with dogs for more than 40 years and joined the Happy Hounds Dog Training school at Neilston Scout Hall four years ago.

Martha retired early from her role following a period of poor health to concentrate on her passion for dogs.

Hosting classes every week, each of Martha’s sessions offer something different to owners, from puppy socialisation tutelage and dog agility to scent work and trick training.

She has also spent countless hours helping poorly pets over the years by volunteering with the Blue Cross charity and is appreciative of the recognition shown to her.

Martha said: “I am the only Scottish finalist for this award and I feel really grateful to everyone who has helped me make it this far.

“The Kennel Club award is not just for training dogs but also for the impact on the wider community and the welfare of dogs or for making a positive difference to the behaviour of dogs and the lives of their owners.

“I started doing this after I took early retirement from being a classroom assistant with East Renfrewshire Council due to having a mini stroke.

“I have been involved with dogs for over 40 years and volunteering means I combine my love of dogs with teaching young people too.”

Martha, who lives in Lugton, East Ayrshire, stages training classes in Neilston Scout Hall at 6.30pm every Wednesday.

She added: “I have been training there for four years now and have dogs of different breeds, from chihuahuas to rottweilers.

Martha still tries to spend as much time as she can educating children about her favourite furry animals.

Such is her desire to impart her knowledge to the younger generations, Martha regularly stops by schools with her own pet dog.

“I visit schools with Ghillie, my whippet, teaching children safety around dogs.” she said.

“I usually deliver a presentation at the school assembly and the children get to ask questions and approach the dog.”

The Kennel Club is the UK’s largest organisation dedicated to protecting and promoting the health and welfare of dogs.

To vote for Martha, visit www.thekennelclub.org.uk/kcaiawards before January 30.

The winner will be announced at this year’s Crufts event on March 11.