Horseware Ireland founder Tom MacGuiness has been given a lifetime achievement award by the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA).

The award marks an “outstanding and significant contribution to the equestrian industry” over a long period of time.

Tom set up Horseware Ireland in 1985 after working as a missionary in South America. His family owned a riding school, but when this was forced to close in tough economic times, he decided to set up his own business as a rug manufacturer.

Tom and his wife began making the rugs from his parents’ basement. His first development was the Rambo Original – a new line in rugs, with a smaller neck and a money-back guarantee to build customer confidence.

“Tom has continued to innovate in design, fabrics and products, and he and his company have come a long way over the past 27 years, transforming a dormant sector of the equestrian industry into something radically different from its jute and canvas origins,” said a BETA spokesman.

A fire devastated the offices and manufacturing plant in Dundalk, leading to a complete rebuild in 2001. During the past 10 years new factories have been set up in China and Cambodia, and a new warehouse has been built to cope with the extra demand.