Lottery jackpot winner buys equestrian centre

  • Riders in Norfolk can look forward to improved competition facilities in their area after a lottery winner, who scooped a £148m jackpot, bought Forest Edge Arena.

    Adrian Bayford, 44, bought the equestrian centre in Swaffham with his fiancée, 28-year-old amateur showjumper Samantha Burbidge, last month.

    Plans are currently being developed to expand the facilities and competition schedule.

    Previously owned by Penny and Steve Garrett, who sold the centre as they were retiring, Forest Edge Arena has a large indoor school and outdoor warm-up set in 35 acres.

    The Garretts had previously upgraded the surface in the 75x35m indoor arena to a new Andrews Bowen Pro-Wax surface. They also built an outdoor arena, installed a cafe and a purpose-built grass arena with water complex.

    “We will be putting a roof on the current outdoor warm-up arena and have got planning permission for a new 60×80 outdoor arena,” Samantha told H&H.

    A new surface for the current indoor arena is also being considered. “It is a big investment,” she said. “However, Norfolk needs an equestrian centre.”

    Forest Edge has run affiliated and unaffiliated dressage and showjumping in past, as well as one-day events and training clinics. Samantha wants to add showing shows featuring Horse of the Year Show qualifiers to the venue’s competition calendar.

    “We want to expand the show programme to include more qualifiers, especially on the showing side. There are very few qualifers in East Anglia and riders have to travel miles to get to competitions,” said Samantha, who also competes in ridden hunter classes.

    Monthly showjumping clinics are planned to start this June with Jonathan Buxton — who trains Samantha — and William Whitaker. Eventing clinics are being organised with Kevin McNab and Emma Dougall.

    BD and British Horse Society camps are being run at Forest Edge this summer and there are plans to expand the equestrian holidays run at the site.

    A tack shop is currently being installed, extra stabling is going in for the bigger shows and a new manager employed.

    “It’s very hard work, but we will do our best to cater for all equestrian needs,” said Samantha.

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