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Mary King has paid tribute to her “selfless and inspirational” mother Gillian Thomson who died suddenly on Monday (8 January).

Jill was a well-known and much-loved face at events, helping and supporting her daughter and granddaughter, eventer Emily King.

Mary credits her mother with making her own career as an event rider possible.

Jill did not have an equestrian background, but did everything she could to support Mary in her chosen career.

When Mary became a mother, Jill would help look after Emily and Freddie while she was riding, meaning Mary was able to follow her ambition to ride at the top of the sport.

“She was so selfless,” said Mary.

She was an angel for so many people and I have been so lucky to have such an inspirational mummy.

“She told me to always smile — when I came out of the ring whether I had fallen off or won, she insisted that I always smile.”

Mary’s father, Michael, suffered a severe head injury as a young man.

In her autobiography, Mary describes the selfless, uncomplaining dedication with which her mother cared for her father.

But Jill did not just dedicate her time and care to her own family, but to many others who needed help and fostered 36 of children over the years.

She was a verger at her local church in East Devon, ran the community badminton club, taught bell ringing and also ran a free playgroup at the church.

Jill also served as a Guiding volunteer, and as treasurer of the Axe Vale branch of the Pony Club for “many years”.

As well as this, she helped to care for older people in the community.

“She touched so many people’s lives,” added Mary.

“She wasn’t horsey, she was quite scared of horses, but she would just about hold one to hand-graze at an event — but she loved watching and was such a supportive mother and grandmother.

“She was also a brilliant lorry driver and a week before Christmas she passed her medical to continue driving the horsebox for another year.

“When Emily and Freddie were little she was so good and would drive to events while I played with them in the living.

“We were a good team and the best of buddies.”

Jill leaves behind her daughter, Mary, son, Simon Thomson, and grandchildren, Emily, Freddie, Andy and Claire.

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