The prestigious British Horse Society Queen’s Award for Equestrianism has been presented to The People of the Royal Borough of Greenwich in recognition of their support for the equestrian disciplines at the London Olympics.
The Award, which is made on the recommendation of the Trustees of The British Horse Society, is “For Outstanding Services to Equestrianism”. It is usually presented to an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to the equestrian industry. However, a year on from the magic of the 2012 Games, it was felt that a whole community deserved the accolade.
By welcoming the equestrian disciplines into their iconic park, the people of Greenwich enabled horse sport to feature at the heart of the 2012 Games. The images streamed around the globe from the city of London showcased equestrian sport as never before, proving that what had been created in Greenwich was quite simply the greatest Olympic and Paralympic Games in the history of our sport.
The award was presented today (Friday 2 August) by Mrs Susan Pyper, the Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, at the Royal International Horse Show, Hickstead, in front of an audience which included riders who had competed at Greenwich, and last year’s volunteer ‘Games Makers’.
BHS Chairman Claire Aldridge said: “We are passionate about encouraging new people to experience the benefits of riding. There will be few greater showcases for our sport than the events of last summer. It was so important for equestrian sport to be an integral part of the London Games – and without the outstanding generosity of the people of Greenwich this would not have been possible.”
Receiving the award on behalf of the Borough, Councillor Chris Roberts said: “I am honoured and delighted to accept this prestigious award on behalf of the people of the Royal Borough of Greenwich. I am so grateful to those in the equestrian community and in LOCOG who had the original vision to choose Greenwich Park as the venue for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. For Greenwich, a major focus of our Games legacy will stem from the growth in tourism. The equestrian events resulted in Greenwich being called ‘the undisputed star of the Games’ which showcased our Borough in a manner even we did not fully envisage. The Games will live long in the memories of all those who witnessed the events and we are so proud to have been honoured in this way.”
Lord Coe, Chairman of the British Olympic Association said: “Greenwich Park was one of the iconic venues of the Games in London and it was only made possible through the support of the people of Greenwich. Their contribution was outstanding and I am delighted that the Queen's Award is being presented to this Royal Borough.”
HRH Princess Haya, President of the FEI, added: “The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be etched on the memories of millions of spectators and television viewers around the world for many years.
“Greenwich Park, with its backdrop of Queen’s House, the National Maritime Museum and Royal Observatory, played host to some of the most memorable moments of the Games. With St Paul’s Cathedral, Canary Wharf and the River Thames clearly visible from the venue, Greenwich Park was a true jewel in the crown for the Games – and we are extremely grateful to the people of Greenwich for this incredible opportunity to profile equestrian sport.”
The Borough was nominated for the award by The British Equestrian Federation. Andrew Finding, Chief Executive, said: “In Greenwich our riders won a record haul of medals, five Olympic (three gold) and 11 Paralympic (five gold). Our objective was to raise the profile of our sport on a global basis from the heart of one of the of the world’s greatest cities, London. This we achieved and many have been recognised for their collegiate efforts but we wanted to go further.
“For the people of Greenwich who welcomed us and supported us, we wanted to find a material way to say: ‘thank you’. On the anniversary of London 2012, it is therefore fitting that the BHS Queen’s Award for Equestrianism is made to ‘The People of the Royal Borough Greenwich’. We are eternally grateful to you, you helped us achieve so much – thank you.”
The riders who competed at the Games felt they were given a truly unforgettable experience. The setting meant that they were able to integrate with athletes from other sports in the Olympic Village, and the atmosphere in the stadium while they were competing at the venue was electric.
Speaking on behalf of the riders, Ben Maher said: “Greenwich was a special place before the Olympics and it was a privilege to be able to add to the history of the historic park. The amazing design of the arena maximised the drama. It was an incredible place to ride and the support for us as a team was like nothing we've ever experienced.”