New service to help injured event riders: ‘It’s hugely important we have this’

  • New support for event riders struggling with injury or mental health has launched, with plans for the service to be fully operational by 2022.

    The British Eventing (BE) Support Trust, born out of the organisation’s charitable foundation, has two main strands. The first is getting the right support to riders in need, and the second is to promote, research and develop initiatives for the overall safety and welfare of riders.

    “We want to be there for our riders,” chair of trustees Ian Stark told H&H. “We feel it is about time the sport had its own specific support.”

    Ian added that one of the fantastic elements of the eventing community is the way people look out for each other. He explained that there are already “brilliant” charities out there, such as the Mark Davies Injured Riders Fund, Riders Minds and the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF), stressing that the trust’s aim is to work with these, not compete against them.

    The “nitty gritty” details are yet to be finalised, but the hope is that referrals will work both ways – from the BE trust to other charities, and vice versa – to help provide the right support at the right time. How applicants are assessed for eligibility is also in progress, with a panel and paperwork likely to be involved. What is certain is that the service is there to support any BE member, from grassroots to five-star, amateur or professional.

    “We expect to be fully up and running by the end of the year. I think it is hugely important that we have this support,” said Ian, encouraging any member who needs help in the meantime to get in touch.

    “The past two years have created added pressure on many within eventing, so it is particularly appropriate and pertinent that we are here to help our own through the difficulties of injury and mental health struggles.”

    The British Eventing Charitable Foundation first launched in 2015, with its main roles stamped as rider training and education, as well as increasing participation and supporting youth programmes. The trust’s accounts show that at the end of 2018, trustees decided it should shift focus. This marked the end of the foundation delivering training activities for BE and a move towards supporting equine welfare and sport safety.

    Money for the newly launched trust is coming from that foundation as well as from direct donations, with plans for future fundraisers, and hopes owners, sponsors and riders will be keen to support it.

    Sir Mark Todd, William Fox-Pitt and all three members of this year’s Olympic gold medal-winning team – Laura Collett, Oliver Townend and Tom McEwen – are among those lending their support to the trust.

    Laura, who credited the IJF team at Oaksey House for her comeback after her serious fall in 2013, said it is “great news” eventers will have more access to these kinds of facilities, supported by their own sport.

    “To win a medal in Tokyo was beyond my wildest dreams and, on a personal note, I know what I had to go through to get it. People keep referring to my accident, especially in the aftermath of the gold medal, but once I was back competing – that was the win for me,” she said.

    “The support I received with my recovery meant I was able to close the door on that chapter, start a new journey and focus on the future. I hope The British Eventing Support Trust will enable many more riders to be able to continue doing what they love.”

    BE chief executive Helen West, also a trustee of the new initiative, added: “From being there to lend a helping hand and advice when it is needed most, through to driving forward research and development in safety, we hope that the British Eventing Support Trust will enable us to provide the best care for the people in our sport.”

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