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A tribute to BHS Volunteer Barbie Clarke

30 July 2014


Following the sad news of the passing of Barbie Clarke, BHS County Access and Bridleways Officer for Dorset, Carol Shoopman recalls just some of the wonderful work that was done by this dedicated BHS volunteer.

Barbie ClarkeI have known Barbie and some of her family for about 20 years.  I first came into contact with Barbie when she phoned and asked me if I could help her with improving the riding in the Gosport area.  At that time Barbie was Chairman of the Gosport and District Horse and Pony Society and joined the Committee of the Solent Bridleways Action Group in 1994, which had been set up by local riders who were fed up with some of the old riding routes being lost to development.

Barbie took it upon herself to meet with Councillors, seeking routes for riders who had paddocks on the other side of Gosport from the Alver Valley.  A permissive route was agreed around the Alver Valley for local horse riders.  An extension to the permissive riding route in Holly Hill Park was agreed with Fareham BC and Barbie spent every Sunday, along with others helping to clear a half mile route in between trees, making culverts and putting down surfacing.

She instigated the building of a bridge along the Solent Way near Warsash with the Territorial Army, which was undertaken and completed over two week-ends.   Without her military contacts the job would never have been done.  The bridge is still in situ and as good as ever.

A set of traffic lights, over a narrow railway bridge at Funtley didn’t pick up horse riders who would meet traffic coming towards them.  Barbie didn’t rest until she got the highway engineers at the site.  Together with local horse riders, she managed to get the sensors at the lights changed after much negotiation so they would pick up horse riders. 

She helped to instigate a one mile route around the sewage works at Peel Common.   A lovely grass track on a high perimeter bank.  The odour wasn’t always good, but it was off road and traffic free for the local riders.

As I was already on the BHS Committee Hampshire I arranged for her to join as the local Gosport Representative and she served on this Committee for many years, organising and running many events etc.

Barbie was very pro BHS and rarely claimed expenses, but gave them as a donation to the Society
When Barbie joined the BHS Hampshire committee, the bank account was almost non-existent.  She organised the committee’s first Rockbourne ride at Tenantry Farm Rockbourne, which was so successful it became an annual event.    When most elderly people would spend early March indoors with a good book, Barbie would be on a checkpoint, sometimes on a beautiful sunny day, but more often in driving rain or snow!

In November 2005 Barbie attended the BHS Annual Awards event at Saddlers Hall the City of London and was presented with the Sefton Award in appreciation of her work to improve road safety for horses.
Barbie’s commitment to the BHS was immense.  When she moved out of Hampshire to /Wiltshire, most would have resigned from the committee…. not Barbie.  She still drove herself to evening committee meetings.
We all have such special memories of this lovely lady, always smiling and happy to help with anything, nothing was ever too much trouble.  We shall all miss her.

Carol Shoopman – County Access & Bridleways Officer Dorset

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