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Davina Whiteman who dedicated her life to showing dies aged 78

A leading figure in the showing world, Davina Whiteman has died aged 78.

Mrs Whiteman was a driving force behind Ponies (UK), which was founded by her mother, Joan Lee-Smith.

She served on the association’s board since its formation in 1988 and took over as chairman in 1995 — a role she held until retiring in 2017.

Mrs Whiteman dedicated her life to the showing world and enjoyed success as a producer, judge, rider and trainer.

Her career started in 1946, when she rode Allerton Nuts In May to stand fifth at the Royal Show, then held at Lincoln, following this with a Royal International win and reserve champion aboard show pony Firefly in 1948.

In 1950 and 1951, she stood champion at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) aboard the legendary Pretty Polly, and went on to have many more successes there with other horses.

Mrs Whiteman was also behind the Cooper family’s unrivalled showing superstar Holly Of Spring, whom she produced to four HOYS championship titles.

She was played key parts in helping to launch careers of a number of leading members of the equestrian world, through guidance, training and mentoring.

She played a major role in the careers of Stuart and Nigel Hollings. The family sent a pony to her as Stuart had outgrown him, but Nigel was still too small.

This formed a most important step in their careers as the Hollings family based themselves with her for three years in the 1970s and made the move into competing at the top level.

Judy Bradwell, Jane Wallace, Laura Richardson and Jayne Ross are to name a few of the others she helped.

In February 2018, Mrs Whiteman was presented with the British Show Pony Society’s equestrian personality of the year award in recognition for her contribution to showing.

Mrs Whiteman died on 10 December. Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course and a full obituary will be printed in the 19 December issue of Horse & Hound.

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