The British Horse Society (BHS) has honoured 36 men, women and children in its latest annual awards programme with tributes led by BHS President Martin Clunes OBE, ahead of National Volunteers’ Week.
This BHS programme recognises the outstanding achievements of the society’s volunteers, supporters and partners from 2020 and includes many shining examples of humanity, endurance and relentless hard work across safety, education, access and welfare – despite and also in response to the challenge of the pandemic.
BHS President, Martin Clunes commented: “Huge congratulations to all our 2020 award winners. It is truly uplifting to see that the winners range from 80 year-old Jane Dotchin who has dedicated her life to animals through to three year-old Beatrice who along with her sister Eliza rode her Shetland pony more than 70 kilometres to fundraise for the BHS. There is also a notable number of professionals including police officers and a vet who have all contributed to the safety of our members and their horses. I never cease to be amazed by all the fantastic people who make the Society what it is – an awesome collective of people who not only love horses but are dedicating their lives to broader equestrian wellbeing.”
This year’s President’s Award went to Gill Longhurst, who is currently South West Regional Chairman, County Chairman Dorset, Vice-Chairman and Welfare Officer, Somerset. Gill has held numerous other posts and has spent the last two decades promoting education, access, safety and welfare. She is a true ambassador of the Society.
Riders in Cambridgeshire can now safely cross the A14 thanks to Mike Evans of Highways England who received an Access Award in recognition of his listening and problem-solving skills.
Changing Lives Through Horses (CLTH) features strongly in this latest role of honour. CLTH Coach Award winner Lee Valantine of Equitots in Lanarkshire is a real champion of the scheme, enabling many young people to exceed expectations and even throughout Covid-19 has provided support by developing an online resource pack which she delivered on Zoom.
Karl Jenkins, now an apprentice at the RAC Saddle Club, won The Pamela Almond Changing Lives Through Horses Achieve Award. Having completed the CLTH programme, Karl is now able to commit to the equestrian world with confidence having overcome serious mental health issues.
PC Heidi Moxam of Dorset Police received a Safety Award, having led a Close Pass-Horse Safe initiative which delivered the BHS’s ‘Dead Slow’ message to tens of thousands of local drivers through public events, literature, high-viz clothing and social media activity.
Welfare Awards went to Bransby Horses Rescue & Welfare who had to cope with floods as well as Covid-19 and Alistair Love of Clevedale Vets who has provided endless support, both in person and latterly online, by getting involved with many BHS awareness campaigns, including colic.
Veteran horsewoman Jane Dotchin received an Exceptional Achievement Award. Now in her 80th year, Jane recently became an internet and media sensation on a 600-mile round trip to Augustus in the North of Scotland, with her pony Diamond and her disabled dog Dinky who travels in the saddlebag!
The Helen Barton-Smith Silver Stirrup Award is given for meritorious work in support of young riders and this year the recipient was Julie-Anne Griffith who dropped out of university aged 18 to train for BHSAI at Edinburgh Vet Field Station in 1983 and has been inspiring young riders ever since.
The Society’s progress with its 2026 access campaign is down to many hundreds of volunteers. Special mention goes to Brian Smith. He has a string of success stories regarding the Definitive Map across Staffordshire and Derbyshire to his name, together with over 30 years’ dedication to the cause of bridleways. The inspirational Patricia Butcher is another access volunteer who has made a huge difference in West Sussex over 24 years. Brian and Patricia both received Awards of Merit.
Carol Jones who is the proprietor of Hole Farm Pony Trekking Centre was recognised with an Approvals Award for providing a means of fitness, friendship, escape and social interaction for people from inner city Birmingham.
An Unsung Hero Award went to Valli Hayes of North Manor Equestrian Centre who was nominated by a total of 11 grateful people for her commitment to helping disadvantaged children achieve some outstanding results.
BHS Chief Executive James Hick added: “2020 was like no other year, but we got through it thanks to all our volunteers, affiliated groups and supporters who worked tirelessly with the BHS teams across safety, access, welfare, education and participation, despite all the challenges. The BHS Awards are our way of acknowledging and celebrating those who made an extra special contribution in aid of our charitable work over the past 12 months – so congratulations to them, but I also want to pay tribute to the many hundreds of others who make the Society what it is.”
All of the 2020 winners will be presented with their awards at the official BHS Awards ceremony in November this year.
Nominations for the 2021 Awards are now open here: https://r1.dotdigital-pages.com/p/51LF-6Y1/bhs-awards-nominations
Read more information about the BHS Annual Awards here: https://www.bhs.org.uk/our-charity/our-awards
Congratulations to all the 2020 BHS Award winners:
Access Award - Individual
Rhona Matthews, BHS Lothian
Lesley Gillman, Essex Bridleways Association
Access Award - Organisation
Mike Evans, Highways England
Approved Centre Award
Hole Farm Pony Trekking Centre
Accredited Professional Coach Award – Approved Centre
Sarah Catterall, Nelson Park Riding Centre
Doris Wolters, Aberconwy Equestrian centre
Accredited professional Coach Award – Freelance
President’s Award for exceptional service to the Society over a period of years
Gill Longhurst, Regional Chairman, Southwest Region, County Chairman Dorset, Vice Chairman and Welfare Adviser, Somerset
Exceptional Achievement Award
Changing Lives through Horses Coach Award
Lee Valantine, Equitots Lanarkshire CIC
The Pamela Almond Changing Lives through Horses Achieve Award
Karl Jenkins, BHS Approved RAC Saddle Club
Tarquin Trophy for equestrian safety
PC Richard Goldie, Isle of Man Road Safety Team
PC Heidi Moxam, Road Casualty Reduction Officer, Dorset Police
Welfare Award - Individual
Denise Jones, Welfare Advisor, Gloucestershire
Welfare Award - Organisation
Bransby Horses Rescue and Welfare
Alistair Love, Clevedale Veterinary Practice
Volunteer of the Year
Mary Lennon, Treasurer BHS Greater Manchester Committee
The Lady Elizabeth Kirk Award for the voluntary dedication of a bridleway
Leybourne Grange Management Community
Eliza and Beatrice Cowell
The Bodynfoel Award for excellent service in promoting the work of the Society
Robert and Linda Davis, BHS Approved Laurelview Equestrian Centre
Chairman’s Commendation for exceptional work
Long Mynd & District Bridleways Association
Award of Merit for consistently excellent service to the Society over a period of years
Brian Smith, BHA Access Officer, Staffordshire
Sue Saunders, Access North and West Kent
Ann Kennedy, BHS Bedfordshire Regional Chair
John Gilbert, APC, BHS Wirral
Education & Event Officer, BHS Wirral Chairman, BHS North West Education & Events Officer
Patricia Butcher, Access Bridleways Officer
Helen Barton-Smith Silver Stirrup Award for meritorious work in support of young riders
Unsung Hero Award
Karen Creba, Boeley Equestrian Centre, West Midlands
David Corney, Isle of Wight
Sam Gott, Buckstone Equestrian
Adrian Thomas, Aberconwy Equestrian Centre
Valli Hayes, APC, North Manor Equestrian Centre
Sue and Geoff Squirrel, Ketsoe Riding Club
Equine Personality of the Year Award
Bobby, Summerfield Stables