Three riders who competed at this summer’s FEI European Championships in Rotterdam were among the recipients of the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) Medal of Honour today at Olympia, The London International Horse Show.
The BEF Medal of Honour is awarded to those recognised as having completed acts of international endeavour in relation to equestrian sport, and for outstanding services to the BEF or its Member Bodies.
The awards were given out in the main arena during the Friday afternoon performance, with BEF Interim Chairman Malcom Wharton presenting.
Cathy Butler announced her retirement as Chair of the Event Horse Owners Association (EHOA) in May this year, after having served in the role for nearly seven years. During this time, she worked tirelessly to improve the sport for owners – although her efforts were often unseen, they were never-the-less experienced by EHOA members and many others. An event horse owner herself with her husband, she shone a light on the importance of owners in equestrian sport, and has made great strides in gaining recognition for them.
“This has come as a huge surprise and I feel immensely honoured to have been recognised in this way for my work with the EHOA,” commented Cathy. “It’s a privilege to have been a part of both the Association and the sport of eventing in general, which leads me to thank all those that I have worked with over the years.”
Amanda Derbyshire was the highest placed British jumper at the World Equestrian Games in 2018 then, following her recovery from an injury sustained in a fall at Hickstead, she was part of the squad that delivered team bronze and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualification at the FEI Jumping European Championships this summer. She has put in solid, consistent performances on Nations Cups teams this year and has been the leading female rider for Great Britain on the FEI ranking list.
'I’m so proud to be awarded the Medal of Honour,” commented Amanda. “The last 12 months have been a rollercoaster of the highs and lows, but to represent my country is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl, and to ride at two championships is something I’ll cherish forever. I’d like to thank the Gochman family for their continued support, my friends, family and trainers for all their belief and encouragement, and lastly Di Lampard for all the chances she gave me and the confidence she had that Team GBR would achieve Olympic qualification.”
In addition to being a leading event rider, Harry Meade is a passionate and industrious contributor to equestrian sport. He is chairman of the FEI International Riders’ Working Group, on the board of the Event Horse Owners Association, a member of the Gatcombe Festival organising committee and an ambassador for equine charity Brooke. He has done much to improve understanding of eventing through his flourishing media portfolio – offering insightful contributions as part of BBC commentary team at high-profile events for the past five years, and writing a regular column for Horse&Hound.
"It's a huge honour to be put forward for a medal of honour, and a great surprise,” commented Harry. “Horses and eventing have been such a big part of my life – I care deeply about both and want to be able to put something back in, and do my part to ensure there's a sport for future generations to enjoy."
This summer, Holly Smith played a pivotal role in securing a team bronze medal and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualification at the FEI Jumping European Championships. She was also part of the team that took home the Aga Khan Trophy following a winning performance in the Dublin leg of the FEI Jumping Nations Cup. Holly’s dedication to representing her country is absolute – she plans her entire competition programme around her team commitments, which have seen her ride under the British flag on 10 occasions across the past two seasons.
“I feel very privileged to receive this award, and to have my name added to such a prestigious list of athletes is so rewarding,” comment Holly. “I will be sharing this success with my incredible team back home, my supportive owners, sponsors, family and friends. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to my success along the way, and the talented horses I have been so lucky to ride.”
Les Smith is a British Eventing Board Director in his third term of office, having previously served for two four-year terms between 2007 and 2014. His greatest contribution to the sport of eventing comes through serving as an FEI Ground Jury member, regularly travelling to international events as far-flung as South Korea, Argentina, South Africa and Russia to support the development of eventing. He is passionate about the sport he has committed his life to and wants to see it flourish from grassroots all the way up to the highest level.
“I would very much like to thank the British Equestrian Fédération for awarding me this Medal of Honour, and British Eventing for nominating me,” said Les, who was unable to attend the presentation. “It is a huge honour and surprise. I find it very humbling and a little embarrassing to receive this for putting something back into a great sport that has offered me fantastic opportunities and challenges over the many years I have been involved.”
Francesca Sternberg has been a staunch supporter of reining since the 1980s, and has represented Great Britain as either an individual or team rider at all FEI World Equestrian Games, World and European Championships since 1998. She is an active member of the FEI Athletes Committee, has a seat on the FEI Reining Committee and holds the Presidency at British Reining. Her efforts have been instrumental in bringing para-reining participation to many international shows. Francesca has a passion for reining, and has worked tirelessly to maintain and grow the sport within the FEI family.
“I am hugely honoured to be recognised in this way,” said Francesca. “I’m very proud to have represented Team GBR and to have helped bring my discipline of reining onto the international stage, so to receive this award on top of that is just amazing. I would like to thank the BEF for this, and all those who have supported me and made my equestrian dreams a reality over the years.”
Para-dressage rider Georgia Wilson announced herself as a British star for the future when she won three medals at the FEI European Championships in August, beating a two-time Paralympic champion in the Grade II freestyle and team tests. Mentored and coached by Sophie Wells, herself a winner of 32 championship medals, Georgia divides her time between her family home and business in Conwy, and Sophie’s base in Lincolnshire. Her infectious smile and bubbly personality won her a legion of fans in Rotterdam, and she looks set to represent her country on many more occasions.
“I feel very honoured to be recognised by the BEF for the Medal of Honour,” commented Georgia, who received her medal during the British Equestrian Writers Association lunch on Wednesday. “It’s been an amazing year and I couldn’t have done it without everyone in the background at home, and coach Sophie Wells and the World Class team for all their guidance in helping me to peak at the right time.”
The seven recipients join a cohort of 316 other holders of the Medal of Honour, dating back to February 1949.