‘The kindest, most generous person’: farewell to much-loved horse sport supporter

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  • Jean Shipp, the long-standing Pony Club and British Eventing supporter, and racehorse and event horse owner, died suddenly at home on 18 April, aged 80.

    Born Miss Powell in 1941, Jean grew up in Bebington, on the Wirral. She gravitated towards horses as a child and this became a lifelong passion.

    In the late 1960s, she became the first woman to hold a managerial position at Ford Motor Company, where she was head of personnel at the Dagenham engine plant. She later became heard of personnel in the light entertainment department at the BBC, working under Sir David Attenborough.

    She married Nicholas Shipp in 1981 and the couple welcomed their only child, Clemmie, the following year. The family enjoyed attending the races and on many occasions took Clemmie in her pushchair to watch Desert Orchid at Sandown, Kempton and Ascot. Clemmie developed her mother’s passion for horses and began eventing, with Jean her biggest supporter.

    Jean ran camp at Tweseldown for the Bisley and Sandown Chase branch of the Pony Club. Before Mr Shipp died in 1997, the branch faced losing its land when it went up for sale, but the couple bought this so the branch could continue using it. It is still used by the Pony Club today.

    She also volunteered as a fence judge, scorer and secretary at horse trials including Tweseldown, Mattingley and Smith’s Lawn. She was an avid supporter of the Horse Trials Support Group in its early days and through this attended the Sydney Olympics with Clemmie in 2000. She also supported the Injured Jockeys Fund.

    In 2011, Jean entered racehorse ownership and had her first horse, Oscars Secret, with trainer Kim Bailey. She later had horses with Warren Greatrex, including her first winner Top Dancer and Tranquil Sea, who was seventh in the 2015 Grand National, with Jean and Clemmie in attendance. She also owned event horses, including Cooley Rules, who was sixth in the seven-year-old championships at Le Lion with Izzy Taylor last year.

    “My mum was the kindest, most generous person. She was full of fun and just loved her horses, racing and eventing. I couldn’t have wanted for a better mother,” said Clemmie.

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