Urgent appeal to help fund treatment of top rider suffering effects of stroke and brain tumour

  • An urgent “call to arms” has gone out to working hunter riders, asking them to donate half a day of their time to help raise immediate funds for fellow competitor Rory Gilsenan, who is suffering from the effects of a recent stroke as well as ongoing brain cancer.

    “Rory has always made time to help and advise his fellow competitors in the collecting ring, and now it’s time for us to give something back,” said former eventer and now top working hunter competitor Ginny Rose.

    “I’m asking experienced riders to pledge half a day of their time to give lessons or clinics, donating the proceeds to a fund to pay for private physio treatment for him. This will not only improve Rory’s quality of life, but also help his family care for him.

    “Their need is urgent, so I would ask people to respond as soon as possible.”

    The popular Irishman, a multiple winner at the Royal International, Horse of the Year Show and Royal Windsor — an H&H cover star in May 2018 — was first diagnosed with brain cancer in November that year and has since undergone two major operations, in addition to gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.

    But a recent stroke has left him paralysed down his right side and virtually unable to speak, and NHS funding has not so far stretched to the intensive physiotherapy he requires.

    “Rory has been back at home for five weeks now but has had no physio or speech therapy,” said his wife Vanessa, now his full-time carer. “We were led to believe that on his discharge, the hospital was doing referrals to all parties concerned with his ongoing care and rehab needs, but to date, nothing has happened.

    “I know the NHS is under-funded and under-staffed, but I do feel that they have washed their hands of us because they know his life expectancy is limited due to the cancer. But surely everyone has an entitlement to treatment, no matter what their chances of recovery are?

    “Rory’s GP referred him for physio a couple of weeks ago after I raised my concerns, but I fear we are still many more weeks away from getting the help that he so desperately needs. For this reason we have made the decision to try and pay for Rory’s physio privately.

    “We all desperately need something to work on — and a focus — at this very difficult time.

    “Rory and I have always felt that the working hunter “family” is the friendliest of all. You can compete against people like Ginny Rose, Bumble Thomas and Fiona Spencer — who have all been round Badminton and/or Burghley — but they still appreciate Rory’s help with the working hunter classes. He has always made time to help anyone who asks.”

    Ginny has set up a “Riding for Rory” fundraising page and will also put out an appeal on social media. She asks that anyone willing to donate the proceeds of half a day’s teaching should do so as soon as possible, promote it as widely as they can and preferably hold the lessons or clinic within the next few weeks.

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    “I don’t think there is a more popular rider and trainer than Rory and so many people have benefited from his vast amount of knowledge — and unique humour,” added Ginny. “Now is the chance for them to give something back.”

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