Teenage event rider Hannah Francis passed away earlier today (1 August) 15 months after being diagnosed with bone cancer.
Since her osteosarcoma diagnosis on 1 May last year, the 18-year-old wrote a blog of her experiences from the point of view of her cuddly toy, Willberry. She also raised significant funds for various charities.
In May, Hannah announced that Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony had been approved as a registered charity.
All funds raised will go towards bone cancer research and granting horsey wishes to those with serious illnesses.
Hannah continued to ride throughout her illness, performing the CCI2* guinea pig dressage test at Tattersalls in June (pictured below), while she continued with her chemotherapy.
A message was shared on the Willberry Wonder Pony page today (1 August) on behalf of Hannah’s family.
“James, Rachel and Sam are deeply saddened to announce that today Hannah passed away.
“She has made every day count and has fought courageously from start to finish.
“They are immensely proud of their beautiful daughter and sister.”
Hannah raised more than £115,000 through fundraising events and Willberry merchandise.
“Thanks to all the people so desperate to make little old me and Willberry happy, I’ve met my absolute idols and heroes,” Hannah said in May.
“I’ve ridden horses who’s talent is out of this world and genuinely tried their hardest to look after me as if they knew just how weak and fragile I now am. I’ve had so many wonderful adventures, small and large, with my wonder pony, my family and my friends that lots of people must only be able to dream of.”
In June, riders took to social media to show their support for Hannah.
Following an emotional Facebook post by Hannah, in which she said one of her greatest fears was that she might be forgotten after she passed away, hundreds of image-based posts appeared across social media under the #inspiredbyhannah hashtag.
Top riders who took part included William Fox-Pitt, Laura Collett and Bettina Hoy.