Showjumping course-builder and commentator dies aged 96

  • Tony Vaughan-France, the former British Showjumping course-builder, judge and commentator died on 9 May, aged 96.

    Mr Vaughan-France was born in the Midlands in 1926. He was educated at Ellesmere College, Shropshire, and as a teenager met Ann. The couple married a number of years later and relocated to Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire. They had six children, three of whom became involved in horses from childhood.

    In the 1960s, Mr and Mrs Vaughan-France bought a smallholding and became involved in dairy farming. They later settled near Taunton, Somerset, and from here Mr Vaughan-France ran a poultry farming business – which gained him the nickname “Rooster”.

    The couple’s daughter Julie’s passion for riding started her father’s involvement with British Showjumping course-building and judging in the 1970s. His engineering background gave him a great aptitude for designing courses. Three of his children joined the local branch of the Pony Club and riding club, and hunted with the Taunton Vale, which led into eventing.

    He had a leading role in the then Somerset Combined Training Group riding club and was chairman of British Riding Clubs from 1991 to 1997. He also served on committees for the Pony Club, the Royal Bath & West Show and the Chard Show. When he retired from course-building, he became a showjumping judge and commentator and continued commentating at shows and horse trials until 2019.

    A thanksgiving service to celebrate Mr Vaughan-France’s life is taking place at St Peter & St Paul’s Church, North Curry, Taunton, Somerset TA3 6LJ on 9 September at 2.30pm.

    Mr Vaughan-France is survived by five of his children, 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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