Equestrians who change lives feature in New Year Honours List

  • A legendary former jockey, top racing figures and those who have changed lives for the better are among the list of those named in the 2021 New Year Honours List.

    Bob Champion was appointed CBE for charitable services to prostate and testicular cancer research. Bob was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1979 and given weeks to live, but two years later (pictured) won the Grand National on Aldaniti, a horse who had overcome serious leg injuries.

    Bob was appointed MBE after that win, which also led to the setting up of the Bob Champion Cancer Trust, as many of those who had backed him sent their winnings to the Royal Marsden Hospital. Bob paid tribute to all those at the trust, which has raised some £15m, for the honour, adding that he was very surprised but “absolutely chuffed”.

    Outgoing British Horseracing Authority (BHA) CEO Nick Rust said he was very proud to be appointed OBE for services to horseracing.

    BHA chair Annamarie Phelps said she was delighted Mr Rust’s service to racing and the BHA had been recognised.

    “Throughout his tenure at the BHA, Nick has worked to bring people together and do the right thing for the sport, and he has never been afraid to make the difficult decisions,” she said. “The award also recognises the leadership Nick has shown in areas such as diversity and inclusion, and the welfare of the sport’s human and equine participants.

    “It is particularly fitting that this recognition should come this year, following the tireless commitment and resilience he showed in supporting the resumption of racing through this most difficult period.”

    Ms Phelps also paid tribute to Bob, BHA board member Maggie Carver, also chairman of the Racecourse Association, who was appointed CBE for services to sport and the media sector, and former Professional Jockeys Association chairman Nigel Payne, who was appointed MBE for services to British horseracing and to charity, “particularly during the Covid-19 response”.

    “Our congratulations also go to Bob Champion, Maggie Carver and Nigel Payne,” Ms Phelps said. “They represent the very best of British racing in terms of sporting achievement, charitable and community work, and representing an industry that supports the livelihoods of 80,000 people.”

    Mr Payne said the news came as a “great shock”, and it was “very humbling”.

    He added: “I’m absolutely thrilled and excited, for myself and my family, and all those people I work with, It’s great.”

    Riding for the Disabled Association chairman Samantha Orde, also director of English Federation of Disability Sport, wasO appointed OBE, for services to people with disabilities.

    Alan Oddie, co-founder of Milton Keynes children’s charity Ride High, which works with horses to transform the lives of severely disabled and troubled children, was appointed MBE for services to the community in Milton Keynes.

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    The charity has raised over £12m in 12 years, to support thousands of children, of whom 90% have gone on to full-time education or work. CEO Olivia Sugdon said: “Alan is a true professional and a gentleman. He has generously and graciously given his time and overwhelming expertise to Ride High for 12 years.

    “With his wife Rachel Medill MBE, he has founded Ride High, and tirelessly committed his days, and nights, to help the charity transform the lives of thousands of children. I cannot think of a more worthy recipient of such an honour.

    “We’re exceptionally proud of him.”

    Mary Smart, who retired after 36 years as financial controller of the Hertfordshire Agricultural Society last June, was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to agriculture.

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