In the first of a series of interviews designed to introduce BHS members to their local committee, we meet Jan Eedle-Wells. Jan recently stepped down as Chairman of the Buckinghamshire committee, after 13 years, and is now Vice Chairman and Treasurer…
Name: Jan Eedle-Wells
Lives: High Wycombe
Age (a ballpark please!): Mid 60s
Family: I’m married to David, and have two adult sons, Gary, 41, and Paul, 39. I have two Cavalier King Charles spaniels, a 10 year old named Abigail and a seven-month old pup, Libby.
Occupation: I’m now semi-retired, but am an accredited trainer so I train for Sensory Loss for the health services, and also train Safeguarding & Protecting Children for the BHS. In a varied career, I started as a farmer, then worked in furniture manufacturing and interior design. I then changed direction and worked for a charity for the blind for some years as a volunteer co-ordinator, speaker and trainer.
Tell us about… your first pony: My first equine was a donkey named Jenny, who I had when I was three. I then progressed to my first pony, Dusty, at the age of five.
…the first fall you can remember: I honestly can’t remember the first, but I came off one of my children’s 11.2hh ponies when I was 30 (it was being pig-headed, so I got on) and broke my back.
…the first rosette you remember winning: I was probably about eight years old, and in the South Oxfordshire Pony Club. I still have my badge at home!
…your horsey highlight: coming 3rd at the Royal International Horse Show at Olympia. The yellow rosette had a plastic squash bottle top centre and cheap ribbon!
…your most embarrassing horsey moment: at my first Horse Trials after breaking my back. I hadn’t long been riding again, my horse stumbled in the water jump and I got a ducking. My late mother was in a state as she hadn’t wanted me to compete so soon after the accident!
…your current horse(s): sadly my favourite horse, Annie (Annecdote) died in her field a few years ago, and I couldn’t bear to replace her after 27 joyous years, so I am now horse-less.
Do you compete? What is your preferred discipline? I don’t compete now, but I enjoyed eventing most of all as it covered all three main disciplines. Having said that, I did a fair bit of showing and showjumping too.
What’s your favourite horsey activity? I’m a showing, dressage and showjumping judge, so I enjoy that. I’m also heavily in to Riding Clubs, so I get involved in the organising of events too. Anything involved with horses really!
What’s your equine ambition? I don’t think I have any left that I haven’t achieved. I didn’t ever fancy the heights (or the cost) of competing at Badminton, and I couldn’t afford to own a racehorse, but I have owned many lovely horses and ponies in my life. I enjoyed my first day's hunting at the age of 6, with my father.
Share your yard secrets, please… what are your best time saving tips? I always did all the stable chores in the morning, so that if I was short of time in the evening after work most of it was done. Before a show, I would always pack the night before - no rushing around in the early mornings for me, thank you!
What about money saving tips? I always used to mix my own horse feed, but having a farming background I had the knowledge to do this well. My father taught me to mix various topical potions, such as the one to make hair grow back on bald patches. I think he got a lot of these recipes from the Romany gypsies that used to camp at the farm sometimes.
Tell us about your involvement with the BHS… what is your role on the committee? I’m now Vice Chairman of the Buckinghamshire county committee. I’m also Chairman of the BHS South regional committee, looking after Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Oxfordshire.
What does your role involve? I don’t think being Vice Chairman now has made me ease up on trying to do a good job, though I don’t have to wash the committee cups up now as the meetings aren’t now held in my home! I think trying to motivate the committee, trying to be there for BHS members and other horsey people in the area, listening to others' points of view, trying to increase BHS membership and endeavouring to still manage to produce two Newsletters a year in Bucks are high on my list. Also supporting the other committees in the region.
How long have you been on the committee, and how long in this role? I’ve been on the Bucks committee for just over 27 years, firstly as secretary, then chairman for 13 years. I’ve been Chairman of the South region committee for 18 months.
How did you get involved with the BHS? I have been involved with Riding Clubs for 37 years and had just resigned as Chairman of one Club after 12 years when I received a call from the then Chairman of the Bucks Committee, saying she’d heard I was now “free” so would I join the Committee as Secretary!
What’s your favourite part of the role? I’m very much a ‘people person’ so have always enjoyed interaction with others, especially horsey people! I don’t look upon committee meetings as a chore, rather as an enjoyable and informative few hours. People often have so much to give, you just need to try and find the magic button to press that gets them going!
Finally, what are your plans for the year ahead within the BHS? I want to try to get more going in the county for both members and non-members to enjoy. I am passionate about the BHS, and am keen to help with the modernisation plans happening at HQ at the moment to give my opinion from the perspective of a member and volunteer.
Thanks, Jan! Next time, we meet Claire Simkins, who joined the Buckinghamshire committee very recently.