British Showjumping members rally to support stewards

  • A minor revolution is taking place in the jumping world after British Showjumping (BS) announced long-serving staff members Frank Grunnill and Mike Henwood will retire in September.

    Around 800 supporters have joined a Facebook page and 240 have signed a petition to BS top brass demanding their reinstatement.

    Frank has worked for BS for 18 years and Mike for 11, both as stipendiary stewards, the official “eyes and ears of BS at competitions”.

    The campaign is headed by showjumper owner Lisa Hales’ groom Beckie Smillie, who told H&H: “Everyone knows them. They are such professionals — firm, but fair.

    “We would love to see them reinstated, but if we don’t achieve that at least we will have shown how much we respect them.”

    Support has come from across the showjumping world, including from Liz and Ted Edgar, Lisa Hales, Mike Florence and Nick Skelton.

    Rider Helen Tredwell said: “We want these guys to stay on — we need them. They deserve to be treated better than this after all their years of service.”

    Frank, 75, told H&H: “BS has given everyone the impression that we went voluntarily, but that’s not the case. We were summoned to Stoneleigh and told we were being retired.”

    And Mike, 67, added: “We are totally overwhelmed by the support we have received, but have accepted that we have been put out to pasture.”

    BS chief executive Iain Graham said: “I am aware of the support for them from members and it is testament to the way they have conducted themselves during their years of stewarding.”

    But he added that BS has a retirement policy in place.

    Both men will continue to steward at international showjumping competitions.

    This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (14 April, 2011)

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