British Eventing has launched an exciting new charity to provide invaluable support for injured event riders and to improve the safety and wellbeing of the people at the heart of our sport.
The British Eventing Support Trust was launched at the Chedington Equestrian Bicton Park 5* Horse Trials today (Friday 3 September). The trust aims to help riders through difficult times, whether that be recovering from an eventing accident or coping with mental health challenges. It also seeks to promote, research, develop and implement initiatives that will help maintain the overall safety and welfare of our riders.
Ian Stark OBE FBHS will Chair the Board of Trustees, which includes names such as Madeline Lloyd-Webber and Malcolm Wharton. “As a Trustee and Chair, I am absolutely delighted to be involved with the launch of our new charity, The British Eventing Support Trust,” said Ian. “We have witnessed the benefit of such support within many sports, especially racing with the hugely influential Injured Jockeys Fund.
“The last two years have created added pressure on many within eventing, so it is particularly appropriate and pertinent that we are here to help our own through the difficulties of injury and mental health struggles. We are here to support our members in times of need.”
A number of high-profile riders are already lending their support to the work of the Trust; including Tokyo Olympic Gold medallists, Oliver Townend, Tom McEwen and Laura Collett. Laura knows first-hand how invaluable a helping hand can be when things go wrong – she benefitted greatly from being able to use the services at the Injured Jockeys Fund’s facility, Oaksey House, following a serious fall back in 2013.
“I think the most important thing is to have support from like-minded people – you go to your local doctor and they most likely tell you not to get back on a horse for six months. Working with people that understand our sport, appreciate the drive and determination to be back competing and want the same results that you do, is vital for a rider’s recovery,” said Laura.
“I was back competing six weeks and six days after my accident and that was all down to the team at Oaksey House. Being at Oaksey House, you are around other people that are going through the same sort of journey that you’re going through; so, you don’t feel so alone. I know I am not the only event rider to have used Oaksey House, so for us to have more access to these kinds of facilities, supported by our own sport, is great news.
“To win a medal in Tokyo was beyond my wildest dreams and, on a personal note, I know what I had to go through to get it. People keep referring to my accident, especially in the aftermath of the Gold medal, but once I was back competing – that was the win for me. The support I received with my recovery meant I was able to close the door on that chapter, start a new journey and focus on the future. I hope The British Eventing Support Trust will enable many more riders to be able to continue doing what they love.”
The recent Games in Tokyo also showed, more than ever, the importance of mental health support for athletes. The British Eventing Support Trust will be there to help riders who are struggling both physically and emotionally.
“This initiative is not just about providing financial and practical support for riders who are injured whilst training or competing, although that is a big part of it. It is about the whole picture and helping to maintain the overall safety and wellbeing of our riders,” said British Eventing Chief Executive, and Trustee, Helen West.
“From being there to lend a helping hand and advice when it is needed most, through to driving forward research and development in safety – we hope that The British Eventing Support Trust will enable us to provide the best care for the people in our sport,” Helen concluded.