Inspirational, talented and courageous Pony Club members will be recognised with an award in memory of young event rider Hannah Francis.

The 19-year-old died from cancer last year and the Hannah Francis Award for Talent, Courage and Inspiration has been created to honour the bravery she showed.

Hannah herself was presented with the award in December 2015 and nominations are now open for this year’s award.

“The Hannah Francis Award for Talent, Courage and Inspiration is a fitting tribute to her, and just one of many ways Hannah’s legacy will be remembered by those within The Pony Club,” said area 14 representative Louly Thornycroft.

Hannah’s courage was utterly amazing. She showed bravery and focus in setting up the Willberry Wonder Pony charity for the benefit of others, despite facing her own enormous, unimaginable challenges.”

Nominations close on 17 March and the award will be presented at the Dengie Winter Championships in April. Posthumous nominations are also welcomed.

Miles Toulson-Clarke, district commissioner of the Wylye Valley Branch of the Pony Club — of which Hannah was a member — and a trustee of the Willberry Wonder Pony charity, described the teenager as an “extraordinary person”.

“Not only was she an exceptionally talented and dedicated rider, she was an equally skilled coach and had started to teach a number of our members,” he said.

“She showed the same aptitude at conveying her knowledge to others as she demonstrated when in the saddle.

“Hannah’s talent, courage and inspiration were most evidenced during her battle with this terrible disease.

“Her creation of Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony charity says everything about Hannah herself – she was always thinking about others.


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“We’re determined to fulfil her legacy and have been amazed by the response from the equestrian community, having raised over £500,000 in under a year.

“This and our future fundraising efforts will reinforce Hannah’s determination that others contracting osteosarcoma can face a much brighter future.”

Pony Club branch or centre officials can nominate members who show “willingness to learn and develop into a talented horseperson”.

  • They will also fit one or more of the following criteria:
  • The member may have gone above and beyond the normal duty of a member
  • The member may have overcome adversity
  • The member may have organised an activity for the benefit of others, not just within The Pony Club
  • The member may be an inspiration and/or role model to others

Nominations should be addressed to Sarah Baker, The Pony Club, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 2RW.