‘Her spirit was with us’: Hannah Francis one-day event to return this summer

  • The second running of an unaffiliated horse trials held in memory of Willberry Wonder Pony founder Hannah Francis will take place this summer.

    The Hannah Francis One Day Event will be hosted at Mendip Plains Equestrian Centre in Somerset on Sunday, 15 July 2018.

    There will be 70cm, 80cm and 90cm classes on the schedule, with all profits going to Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony Charity, which funds research into bone cancer and also fulfils the equestrian dreams of seriously ill people.

    The concept of an ODE in her name was discussed with Hannah before the teenage eventer’s death from osteosarcoma in August 2016. Last year’s inaugural edition raised more than £5,000 for the charity.

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

    “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.”

    Entries to this year’s event will be via the equoevents website. Entries will open on 5 June and close on 4 July, or earlier if full.

    While the event is unaffiliated, it will be held under British Eventing (BE) rules.

    Organisers say that Wobbleberries — a challenge set up last year to encourage “wimpy, middle-aged riders” to tackle their first grassroots BE event while raising funds for Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony charity — will be warmly welcomed.

    “Hannah loved eventing and this event is run in tribute to her,” a statement from organisers said.

    “Hannah faced her battle with osteosarcoma with enormous courage, determination and resilience; she inspired, and continues to inspire, many people in the equestrian community and beyond.”

    Continued below…

    Further details and regular updates are available via the event’s Facebook page, while a full diary of Willberry events can be found on the charity’s website.

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    This week’s edition (10 May) features our full report from Badminton, including in-depth analysis, expert comment, pictures and more. Plus, read our feature on the options for retiring your horse and in this week’s vet clinic we look into the challenges of equine surgery.

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