Bicton Arena is celebrating after scooping two awards at this year’s Event Riders Association’s annual awards.
Helen West was presented with the Organiser of the Year award for the second year in succession whilst the venue also collected the award for Best Social Media use by a British Eventing Organiser. Miranda Collett, who is the event secretary for Bicton, was awarded the award for best event secretary of the year.
Helen, who has represented Great Britain at Junior and Young Rider level, has used her experience to develop events that are in line with the demands of today’s competitive rider. She said: “The feedback we received following the event was very positive and it was wonderful to see so many well-known riders competing here. The two international classes ran over courses which were separate from the novice and intermediate tracks, and often at competitions this is not the case, with the course virtually the same. I think the riders really appreciated this. The tracks were also educational and a lot of riders used Bicton as a stepping stone to Houghton International. We were also praised for the dressage arenas and for staging the show jumping in our main arena which gave horses the chance to compete in that sort of atmosphere.”
Bicton Arena is also very active on social media, and has developed a large following. Helen continued: “This is very much down to our arena assistant Beccy Barrett who is brilliant on social media. It’s a very effective way of keeping competitors informed and it’s fantastic that our efforts have been recognised. It was a super evening and lovely that Bicton Arena was recognised in so many different ways. But Bicton Arena’s success is very much down to the fantastic team we have who all work so hard to put the arena and Devon on the map. We are constantly evolving, and we constantly listen to what competitors want and that, we hope, encourages more people to head west to Devon.”
Other awards presented on the night included favourite competition venue, favourite BE volunteer, favourite event rider, rising star and most influential rider. The association also presented the Against All Odds award which was presented to Hannah Francis, who was diagnosed with an aggressive bone cancer in her pelvis and right hip joint earlier this year. Despite this, Hannah has battled the disease and continues to ride, recently winning a combined training with her pony Tommy at West Wilts. She received the award from Australian Event Rider Paul Tapner. Expressing her delight on social media, Hannah said: “How incredible to win such an award. I am totally touched. I will never forget such a special evening.”
The annual Event Riders Association End of Season Ball took place at The Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club and was attended by around 200 people. Alongside the ERA awards, David Holmes, Chief Executive of British Eventing, also presented a number of awards on behalf of British Eventing.
The Tony Collins Award for the leading British rider went to Oliver Townend for the second year running, and was picked up by Oliver Lawton on his behalf. The Goldman Cup for the leading Under 21 rider of the season went to Emily King, who topped the league by a considerable margin. Emily is currently training in Germany with Marcus Ehning and her award was collected on her behalf by Dani Evans.
The Mitsubishi Motors Leading Rider Award for the leading Grassroots Rider was awarded to Katie Hancock and the Leading Foundation Point rider went to Alex Postolowsky.
The final awards presented by BE were for leading British Riders at their respective European Championships. Alex Tordoff received the Hubert Allfrey Trophy for being the Best British rider at the FEI Junior European Championships in Bialy Bor, whilst Kitty King received the Jane Holderness Roddam Trophy for being the leading British rider at the FEI Longines European Championships at Blair Castle.
Thomas Tulloch was presented with the Jane Rook Trophy at Weston Park in October for being the highest placed rider in the GB squad at the FEI Pony European Championships in Malmö, Sweden, where his fourth place was vital to the team winning gold. Will Furlong was awarded the Sir John Burder Trophy in November for his individual gold medal at the 2015 FEI Young Rider European Championships in Strzegom.
Sarah Carless Reporter at Large
Lauren Causer, Lens Vanity Photography