‘It felt like her spirit was with us’: Hannah Francis one-day event raises £5,000

  • Young eventer Hannah Francis’ dream of having a horse trials in her name has been granted.

    The inaugural Hannah Francis One Day Event was organised in memory of the Willberry Wonder Pony charity founder, who died from cancer a year ago.

    It took place on 16 July at Mendip Plains Equestrian Centre, Somerset, and raised £5,000 for the charity, which grants horsey wishes for young people with life-threatening illnesses or conditions and funds research into bone cancer.

    hannah francis one day event

    Photo by Rob Bayes

    “The day was really wonderful,” organising committee member Jo Lane told H&H.

    “There was a very special atmosphere — everybody came together and thought about Hannah.

    “For everybody who knew her, and everyone on the committee did, it was about fulfilling one of her dreams.

    “It was a sad day, but also an uplifting day. It felt like her spirit was with us.”

    She added the event did not set out to be a fundraiser, but to do something in memory of Hannah and celebrate her love of eventing.

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    Around 200 competitors took part, including many Wobbleberries, and numerous Berry ponies were seen attached to riders during the event — giving the commentator extra names to remember.

    hannah francis one day event

    Photo by Rob Bayes

    The event also had entries from riders inspired by Hannah to take up eventing or to return to it after a break.

    “We were very touched by the number of people who gave up their time free of charge, such as the vet and the doctor,” said Ms Lane, who also thanked the sponsors.

    We were overwhelmed with volunteers, we only had to say we were running this event and people came flocking — it was heart-warming.”

    Plans are already afoot for next year’s event.

    The charity has so far granted a number of wishes to children and young people, including lessons with top riders, a trip to Badminton and a chance to try side-saddle riding.

    It has also been made Olympia’s charity of the year for 2017.

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