‘One of the most significant figures in polo’: tributes paid to family man and philanthropist

  • Major Christopher Hanbury, the family man, polo player and philanthropist died on 10 May, aged 78.

    Born in County Meath, Ireland, Major Hanbury hunted with the Meath and Ballymacad foxhounds. As a student at Cirencester’s Royal Agricultural University, he began to play polo, but did not play seriously until he joined the Irish Hussars in 1965 and played regimental polo in Germany.

    In 1974 he went to Brunei as aide-de-camp to the Sultan of Brunei and, while there, he set up the Jerudong Park Polo Club.

    His polo career took off when he was a member at Cirencester Park Polo Club with his team Lovelocks, winning the most sought-after trophies. Major Hanbury sat on the executive board of directors at Cirencester, culminating in his position as chairman from 1995 to 1999. Under his leadership, he elevated the ethos of raising money for charities through polo, supported for many years by the Prince of Wales, who played charity games at the club. This period in the club’s history was its golden age during which royalty, rock stars, actors and renowned businessmen came to support the charities, both playing and spectating – and all of this down to Major Hanbury’s inspiration and larger than life personality.

    His wife Bridget was his rock, and supported him unwaveringly with his philanthropic work. With his connections and charm, Major Hanbury was able to give millions of pounds to charities through Cirencester Park Polo Club. He also served a term as chairman of children’s charity the Starlight Foundation.

    Major Hanbury created the well-respected Lovelocks Polo Stud in Argentina, now managed by his family.

    In 2005 he was appointed chairman of the Hurlingham Polo Association, a position he held until 2008. He was one of the most significant figures in polo, internationally renowned with friends and colleagues all over the world. Eventually Major and Mrs Hanbury’s sons Charlie and George took on the reins of polo with enthusiasm and delivered to their father one of the most sought-after trophies in the world, the British Open Gold Cup.

    Major Hanbury leaves Bridget, his six children Zahra, Emma, Arabella, Jessica, Charlie and George, and 21 grandchildren. He was much loved by all those who knew him, especially for his legendary sense of humour and his affable, caring demeanour.

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