THE BE VOLUNTEER – When dreams come true..

Well the cake turned out rather well thankfully – I opted for a trusty Victoria from a classic Mary Berry recipe (organisers feel free to take note) you cant go wrong with Victoria in tow now can you?! I’d give myself an 8 for that effort, I mean I did bake it myself after all, shop bought just wouldn’t do now would it?!

Its funny how when you know you are going to Badders 4am seems a perfectly acceptable alarm call and I hop out of bed with a spring in my step.

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Driving across that parkland was pretty special. It may have only been 8am but there were more people than I expected around already, so a cautious drive across the parkland, past the stunning Badminton house and over towards the Vicarage Fields ensued. 

Where were we heading? Fence 17 the Mirage Pond – it looked even bigger than it did last Sunday when we were here.

I had wrongly assumed that anyone here at that time would a) be a keen eventing enthusiast and b) understand why the string was there and c) not walk on the course. Not long had we unpacked the car, than some crowd education was undertaken. 

Some thankful conversations with a few riders walking the course, then time for steward checks and then it was time. I don’t generally suffer with nerves, but I felt the pressure at 11.25am that day. I had to accurately captured every rider, and as the BBC camera was opposite there was no beeb back up, it was down to little old me should a penalty decision need reviewing.

Phew, first horse through – unfortunately for Lauren Kieffer she had an expensive visit and left our fence with 20 penalties for a run out. Now to settle down for the rest of the field to come through.

You certainly know you’re at a four star, when you stand up and turn round after a couple of horses and there are about 500 people behind you in the crowd. Best not make a public under garment adjustment here then!

And they all seemed to be watching as I scoffed my cake (thankfully not dropping it in my lap) and walked to and from ‘the cube’. Best behaviour I kept reminding myself ha!

The crowds grew, the horses jumped the fence well, and thankfully no video reviews were required. But then with Victoria and Peter Asprey, Fence Judges of the Year no less at your fence, I knew they had it all in hand. 

I’ve been lucky to fence judge at some 3 star competitions, but watching the word’s best make light work of those enormous brush fences was special. A Nicholson master class on Nereo, two enormous leaps into the water from Tina and Michael Jung, well no words for him and Sam. 

The crowds thinned as they all made it back to the main arena to welcome the last few competitors back, the cake crumbs were eaten and then it was finished.

Wow what a day! 

But the day didn’t finish for me, after we checked back to XC control, I had to hot foot it off to a meeting about Poland (eek, the next big exciting adventure…!) then it was time to climb into minty mini and drive home. 

Then back in the car again Sunday morning (yes I should ave stayed locally, but one VIF – very important feline – needed me at home) and as it was Sunday, the perfect accompaniment to the journey was Clare Balding’s Radio 2 show. She was discussing what motivates us, which seems very apt. What does motivate you to drive 200 miles volunteer at an event. Its what I love. Its playing (a very, very small) part in one of the biggest sporting occasions in the world. It’s giving something back to a sport which gives me so much pleasure and enjoyment. Oh and of course Clare Balding reading out my text message about volunteering at Badminton. Thank you Clare.

It was an honour to watch Victoria and Peter collect their award in the main arena on Sunday – no-one IMG_6756
deserves it more they they do. Well done guys!

And huge well done to Mr Nicholson, quite an honour to witness him being crowned the long-deserved winner of Badminton 2017.

With Badminton now ticked off the bucket list, what next I wonder? I have been truly blessed to volunteer at some amazing places in the last twelve months. How do you do it? Well just get out there volunteering at events and see where the adventure takes you. 

The volunteering journey marches on to Chatsworth with the return of ERM, see you all there….

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