The founder of Pass Wide and Slow group has been given an award for her “pure determination” to improve conditions for riders on the roads.
The British Horse Society’s (BHS) Sefton Awards recognise those who have made an “outstanding contribution in the field of equestrian safety”.
Cornwall-based Debbie Smith was acknowledged for her petition calling for drivers to pass horses with care, which has been signed by more than 100,000 people, and her Pass Wide and Slow Facebook group, which has more than 11,000 members.
MP, Derek Thomas secured a Westminster Hall debate to discuss the issue of riding and road safety thanks to Debbie’s campaign.
Debbie was presented with the award at Hyde Park Barracks in London on 11 October.
“It’s good to be recognised and acknowledged by the BHS,” Debbie told H&H.
“Alan Hiscox [BHS director of safety] commented on my pure determination to get things done, but it’s what we’ve all done together.
“It’s not all about me, Christine [Brindle] has done a lot for instance, and Alan is working with us lots now.”
Debbie, who runs a business growing flowers for London markets, launched her campaign two years ago, but she did not anticipate the response it has had.
“I never imagined it would grow this big,” she said.
“I just got mad out riding one day and thought, ‘I’m going to change the law’.
“I’m still pushing the petition and trying to get signatures.
“We’re encouraging riders to be polite, well-mannered and make sure they are seen, as well as drivers sharing the responsibility too.”
Janice Pickup, Lyn Morris, Ellen Shaw and Cathryn Godfrey also picked up Sefton Awards.
BHS safety volunteer Janice was recognised for her work in Manchester and Cheshire to raise awareness of equestrian safety.
She supported Greater Manchester Police in their ‘Operation Considerate’ campaign to keep all road users, including horses, safe.
Lyn, a road safety officer for Carmarthen County Council, has been working with the BHS to raise awareness of its Dead Slow campaign and wider equestrian safety.
She recently secured funding for the British Animal Rescue and Trauma Association and the BHS to run emergency service training sessions for police and fire officers in her area.
Barrister Ellen and Cathryn, from Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, were both recognised for helping the BHS raise awareness of rider safety in their spare time.
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Both Cathryn and Ellen have delivered presentations throughout the country, using their legal background to advise and educate horse owners so they can protect themselves while riding out.
“The past year has been brilliant in raising awareness of rider safety on the roads, with a particular highlight being the Westminster Hall debate,” said Alan Hiscox.
“All of those who have received Sefton Awards have had a huge part to play in this and I would like to thank them personally for their hard work and dedication.”