‘Eventing Family’ unites to help injured and sick friends

  • A fundraising party has been organised by a group of eventers in support of friends and family facing difficult times.

    Started by Aaron Millar, the group is called The Eventing Family and has both a Twitter account and Facebook page.

    Other group members include Helen West, Beccy Barrett, Alex Jackson, Sophie Richardson and Andrew Fell, who are helping to arrange a party at Bicton Horse Trials on 22 August.

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    Money raised this year will be split between Spinal Research, Cancer Research UK, Teenage Cancer Trust and Motor Neuron Disease Association.

    The support for Spinal Research is for Jemima Green – Jodie Amos’ fomer head girl – who sustained life-changing injuries in a car crash earlier this year in which 25-year-old groom Louiza Covey died.

    Hannah FrancisThe cancer charities were chosen for Hannah Francis (pictured left) and four-star event rider Ben Hobday (pictured top), who are both undergoing chemotherapy.

    The decision to support motor neuron research was made in support of Helen West’s mother, Pat.

    So far a host of famous names and organisations have made donations to the charity raffle and auction.

    These include a training day for horse and rider with Andrew Nicholson and a life-time British Eventing membership for a rider plus a year’s membership for a horse.

    Speaking to H&H earlier last week, Ben said he is “overwhelmed” with the amount of support and well wishes he has received.

    “It really makes me feel so much more positive and motivated about getting through these next few months,” he said.

    “Obviously it is a life changing issue. However, the support has given me the determination to battle through it and look forward to next season.

    I can’t thank you all enough for all of the messages, calls, cards and gifts. It really makes a big difference.”

    Olivia Robertson, who is also on Eventing Family’s event committee, runs the Willberry Wonder Pony website that she set up in support of Hannah.

    The 19-year-old heard about Hannah’s diagnosis and despite having never met her, decided she wanted to do something to help her raise the £800 needed for a wig.

    Olivia set up a website for Hannah and Willberry – a toy horse who accompanies Hannah to her hospital appointments – a month ago after seeing their posts on Instagram.

    Since then, both 17-year-old Hannah and the toy have kept a regularly-updated blog and have a range of wristbands, cross-country base layers and onesies for sale.

    Olivia said the response has been “incredible” and estimates around £12,000 has been raised so far.

    This will be split between Hannah and a number of cancer charities.

    “It is amazing,” she said. “Everybody joins together – eventing is such a friendly sport.

    She added that Hannah has been so inspiring and “really is kicking cancer’s butt!”

    The pair, who have a number of mutual friends, are set to meet for the first time this weekend.

    Hannah said: “I’ve been totally overwhelmed by support from every person and never expected it to grow so big! The whole raising awareness has been the best bit as many others are realising just how many people go through this horrible disease everyday.”Hannah Francis

    “Thank you for everyone’s ongoing support from the bottom of mine and Willberry’s heart.”

    Visit www.facebook.com/eventingfamily for information.

    A separate fundraising show and party has been organised for the Bright Red Charity, which supports the cancer units at The Freeman Hospital in Newcastle where Ben is receiving treatment.

    The event, which is not connected to the Eventing Family party at Bicton, will be held on 9 August at Todburn Equestrian Centre.

    Visit www.todburnequestriancentre.co.uk for details.

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