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‘He has left a huge hole in our hearts’: Rory Gilsenan passes away

The showing producer Rory Gilsenan has died today (22 April), aged 50.

The much-loved Irishman had been suffering from the effects of a stroke and ongoing brain cancer.

Rory’s wife Vanessa said: “It is with great sadness that I have to inform you all that Rory passed away peacefully at home this morning with myself and the children holding him.

“He has left a huge hole in our hearts and, I’m sure, in many of yours.”

Rory was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour in November 2018 and underwent two operations, as well as radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment. He suffered a stroke earlier this year, which left him paralysed on his right side and virtually unable to speak.

An urgent appeal was launched by fellow rider Ginny Rose in February to help raise funds for physiotherapy treatment for Rory, and an online auction organised by his friend Karoline Thorpe at the beginning of April raised £9,000 for Rory’s family. This support for Rory was highlighted in the People in the News column in tomorrow’s H&H magazine, which went to press on Monday.

Among Rory’s many achievements in the show ring was winning the Cuddy Working Hunter of the Year title at the 2018 Horse of the Year Show with Atlantic Slim, which he won shortly before his diagnosis. Then in 2019 the combination won the working hunter championship at the Royal International Horse Show. Rory was awarded the 2019 Roger Stack Award at Hickstead’s showtime ball in recognition of the top performances.

A tribute to Rory will feature in the 30 April issue of Horse & Hound.

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