Enid Whitaker, mother of John, Michael, Ian and Steven and the matriach of the Whitaker dynasty, (pictured above wearing a cream jacket at Michael’s wedding), passed away on Saturday 3 January aged 85, after a short illness.
Enid and her husband Donald Whitaker, who died in 2005 at the age of 81, encouraged their sons’ love of horses from an early age.
She was a keen horsewoman and ran a small riding school from their home in Yorkshire, while Donald ran the family farm. Donald, too, had a great eye for a horse, despite not riding. John and Michael famously used to deliver milk in a horse and cart before they went to school.
One of the greatest equestrian families in the world expanded through the generations and Enid became a great-grandmother for the fourth time shortly before she died.
“From the very beginning it was her that encouraged us all to ride — we owe her a lot,” Michael told H&H. “She was always very interested in horses and was a very capable rider.”
John and Michael have been the most famous of her sons when it comes to international showjumping success, and following in their footsteps are nearly all of her 13 grandchildren — including Ellen, William and Robert Whitaker, who is set to marry fiancée Kate Jackaman in Barbados this week.
Between them, the Whitaker clan have won four Olympic medals, seven world championship medals and 28 European medals — plus countless more at young rider, pony and junior level.
“She was extremely proud of all her family and would come and watch us right until she was too ill to get about,” said Michael. “She and my dad couldn’t get enough of it — I think she must have gone to every show in England. But she’ll be a huge loss to the family.”
The funeral takes place on Tuesday, 20 January.