‘She leaves a wonderful legacy’: farewell to hugely influential equestrian

  • Juliet Seal, one of the most influential figures in British para dressage has died, aged 86.

    Juliet was born to John and Betty Perrot in June 1937. After John was killed at Dunkirk, her mother married James Martin, and two brothers came along.

    Juliet married David Seal and moved to Jersey, where the couple and their three children lived for over 20 years. She enjoyed hunting and dressage, with lessons from visiting trainers including Carl Hester. She became district commissioner of the island’s branch of the Pony Club, chief road safety officer for the Channel Islands, and chairman of the Jersey Riding for the Disabled Association. This involvement ignited her passion for para dressage.

    After her return, to Hampshire in 2000, Juliet started training as a British Dressage (BD) judge, working her way up to List Two and international para judge status. Her involvement in the para community developed and she was invited to become a selector in 2004, the year of the Athens Paralympics. She proved a key member of the panel and was chief para selector from 2009 until Rio 2016.

    Juliet demonstrated exceptional commitment to the British para dressage team and her dedication played a huge part in its unprecedented success. Juliet selected for two Paralympics, three World and four European Championships, all of which resulted in team gold. Her calm nature, quiet diplomacy and openness made her an exemplary selector.

    Juliet also enjoyed racing, owning a part-share in about 20 horses and following them avidly. She was a talented and adventurous cook, and a keen gardener. Juliet and David celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary last November.

    Former chair of para selectors Carolyn Gardiner met Juliet in Jersey and worked with her for “seven wonderful years”.

    “Juliet was a wonderful, kind and lovely person,” she said. “She was full of common sense and had so much empathy. It was a privilege to have worked with her for many years. We were tremendous friends, and I will miss her greatly.”

    Current chair of para selectors, Joyce Head, added: “She was so approachable, a good listener and she had everything, including her vast knowledge, at her fingertips. You were never afraid to ask her anything and the main thing for me was what a caring person she was. She was a real lady. She will be sadly missed by all who knew her.”

    BD CEO Jason Brautigam said Juliet’s contribution to the development of para dressage cannot be overstated.

    “This was a period of unprecedented international success for our para athletes, culminating in a phenomenal 20-medal haul at the Paralympics in London 2012 and Rio 2016, where Team GB won a combined 12 gold, nine silver and one bronze. Juliet leaves a wonderful legacy that will endure for many generations to come.”

    Juliet is survived by David, their daughters Kate and Sarah, son Rupert, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

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