AN 11-YEAR-OLD girl has beaten professional dog groomers to scoop a national award at Crufts.

Melissa Saunders was the youngest competitor in the Young Kennel Club Groomer of the Year contest for clipping dogs at Crufts on Thursday last week (March 6).

The youngster, who lives in Leeming Bar in North Yorkshire, arrived at the competition with the odds stacked against her - she had arrived at The NEC in Birmingham nearly an hour and a half after the contest had begun and was working with a large poodle unused to the crowds and noise of the busy contest.

Her grandmother, Judith Raper, said her granddaughter had also picked a breed of dog that was particularly difficult to groom; requiring large amounts of coat to be cut and clipped.

But despite all this the youngster kept her composure and narrowly missed out on winning the young groomer of the year - open to competitors up to the age of 24 - and was named runner-up.

“We got there late because of road works and they’d been working on the dogs for an hour and a quarter when she got there. My daughter was in bits but Melissa wasn’t fazed, she just got on with it,” said Mrs Raper.

“She was the only one that wasn’t a professional groomer; all the rest worked in grooming salons and were all aged over 18, so she did very, very well. It’s the first time she’s done a competition involving dog grooming.”

Her proud grandmother said Melissa, who attends Barnard Castle School, picked up the skill by watching her mother, Michelle Saunders, and herself, working in the family dog grooming parlour, Alermann Grooming Salons near Leeming Bar.