Shrewsbury's BGT star Tina Humphrey dies, aged 45
Tina Humphrey, who wowed audiences on Britain’s Got Talent with her dancing dog Chandi, has died aged 45 after a battle with cancer.
The former music teacher from Shrewsbury and her beloved blue merle border collie reached the final, coming fourth in 2012.
She toured the country after appearing in the ITV series, releasing a book about the dog’s life in 2012.
Her husband, Steve, said: “I am devastated that she is gone, but I’m happy that she is no longer suffering and is at peace. I miss her so much and find it hard to believe that the shattered pieces of my heart will ever begin to heal, but I know they will because she lives on in me and always will. I love her so much. She was, and is, my person.”
Tina blogged about training her new dog, Grace, on a Facebook page followed by nearly 250,000. Steve said he would keep the page up and running at the request of Tina.
He said: “Before she died she made me promise not to retreat into grief, but to have adventures with Grace and our other dog Gromit so that she could be with us in our hearts and minds having fun.”
Simon Cowell fell in love with blue merle border collie Chandi when she appeared on Britain's Got Talent with owner Tina in the fourth series of the talent show.
But it was the public that took the double act into their hearts, voting her into the final and helping her get to fourth place across the competition.
Tina died on May 12 after fighting metastasised melanoma, a very aggressive cancer, for more than a year.
Even outside the audience-captivating performances, Tina and Chandi were very rarely apart.
Chandi was the very first dog she saw when she went to rehome a puppy at Hilbrae Kennels on November 11, 1998.
At the time of her Britain's Got Talent appearance, she recalled visiting the kennels, in Cold Hatton, Telford to pick up the dog.
"I walked into the office and this little tiny head with a pink nose and huge ears that were too big for her just peered out from behind the legs of the man who worked there," she said.
"I said jokingly ‘I’ll have that one if it’s available’, not thinking for one second that such a beautiful animal and the dog of my dreams would be there.
"Chandi isn’t distracted by the lights or the audience when on stage because she knows I wouldn’t take her anywhere where anything bad could happen. She watches me and is totally focused on me. Chandi completely trusts me and I trust her."
Chandi won four Crufts finals and made appearances on Blue Peter, Richard and Judy’s chat show and Graham Norton’s When Will I Be Famous, where she won a £10,000 prize. She died on April 26, 2013.
In the years since, Tina trained a new dog, Grace, and blogged about her experiences on Facebook.
In a statement released on Facebook, Hilbrae Kennels said: "Tina rose to fame with her amazing routines with Chandi, who she adopted from us some years ago.
"They made lots of TV appearances, once again proving that 'rescue' dogs are capable of great things.
"Our thoughts go out to her husband Steve, and we can only hope that she has been reunited with her beloved Chandi and her other dogs."
Days before she died, Tina took to Facebook to speak to friends.
"I write this sitting outside looking at the most amazing wooded garden," she said.
"The sun is shining, the grass is sparkling with dew, there is a breeze and the birds are singing to me - how I have loved this natural world and its creatures and being able to walk and revel in the breathtaking beauty of the world.
"Maybe I get to be at one with the breeze and the flowers, trees, birds - the entire universe and be part of the loveliness.
"Then I can be all around those I love, whispering my love on the breeze and warming you with love with sun beams on your face.
"Perhaps you will be able to marvel at me in the Northern Lights or meteor showers or a lunar eclipse."
She added: ""I fought so hard to stay - I did my best. I always knew I would die young - you can't fight destiny. I have done more in my 45 years than a lot of people do in a lifetime."
Tina's funeral was held with friends and family at Shrewsbury Crematorium on Monday.
The ceremony was held with very close family and friends and featured readings Tina had written herself.
Rather than flowers, she asked that anybody interested donate money to Hilbrae Kennels.
For more information or to give money, visit justgiving.com/hilbraerescuekennels