A pioneer in rider safety: Charles Owen chairman Roy Burek dies

Roy Burek, a pioneer in rider safety and the chairman of Charles Owen, has died in his sleep from a heart attack aged 61.

Mr Burek committed his life’s work towards making riding safer and saving lives.

He was the grandson of the Charles Owen, who founded the company in 1911. Under Mr Burek’s guidance, the business has grown into a global market leader of top quality riding helmets, featuring cutting-edge technology, design and research.

Mr Burek was integral in developing international safety standards and research into the science of head injuries. This led to him being appointed as honorary professor at Cardiff University in 2017.

A spokesman for the company told H&H they are devastated at his passing.

“Roy’s tireless passion for creating a safer world brought Charles Owen to the forefront of equestrian safety innovation and his dedication to offering help and advice to colleagues and to riders of all levels will be missed,” he said.

“He was an irreplaceable resource in both the equestrian and research communities, and his legacy will live on in the safety products he committed his life to designing.”

“He will be very sorely missed by us all. We all know how much he believed in this family business and it is now time for us to come together and do Roy proud.”

The spokesman added that at a time of mourning, it is the “strong union of Roy’s incredibly proud family” and the excellent global team that will ensure his work “continues to save lives into the future”.

Mr Burek’s son, Owen Burek, has increasingly been supporting his father in business decision over recent years. He will continue with the company’s work and maintain “business as usual” for employees and customers. He has himself grown a successful business over 12 years and has a wealth of experience and ideas to offer.

Mr Burek’s sister, Cynthia Burek, a professor at the University of Chester, is looking into establishing a trust to fund research on head injury, to continue her brother’s legacy and their grandfather’s mission of Charles Owen being “for a safer world”. A CrowdFunding page has been set up with this aim.

An obituary with tributes to Roy will be published in next Thursday’s issue of Horse & Hound (9 May).