A group of charitable novice event riders has raised more than £250,000 for Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony.
The Wobbleberry challenge was set up in August last year for “middle-aged, wimpy” riders, inspired by the late Hannah Francis.
The riders signing up for the challenge set themselves the target of competing at their first British Eventing (BE) entry-level event while raising funds for Willberry Wonder Pony, the charity set up by Hannah.
Since then, more than 1,200 riders have signed up to join the Wobbleberries and the group has raised over £250,000.
The challenge is now an annual one, to allow more riders to take part.
“We never imagined we would get this far in our wildest dreams,” said one of the challenge’s founders, Sam Elms.
“It’s been hard work for us volunteers and we have really learned on the job, but it’s been incredible.
“Now we’re very closely linked to the charity and they sell our sign-up packs on their website.”
The packs cost £20 and include a code to obtain a BE training pass, horsey “goodies” and access to training and online material to help riders on their path to BE.
We meet eight inspirational Wobbleberries at a training session with Andrew Hoy ahead of their daunting challenge
The challenge supports Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony Charity, which was set up by the late Hannah Francis
‘The challenge has captured the imagination of the equestrian world’
All riders have their own personal fundraising target as part of their registration.
Sam has been working with Andrew Hoy, the Wobbleberries’ patron, to create a series of training videos which will be released from January.
Andrew has supported the Wobbleberries since its inception and met Hannah in May last year.
“He has been the nicest professional rider I have ever met. He is so genuine,” added Sam.
Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony
Event rider Hannah was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in 2015.
She continued riding despite her ongoing treatment and deteriorating health. Hannah founded her charity, Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony in March last year.
Hannah died aged 18 last August, but her charity continues in her memory funding research into osteosarcoma and to providing equestrian experiences (“Willberry’s Wishes”) to seriously ill people.