Willberry does Badminton: stars help raise thousands at preview event

  • Eventing stars gathered for a special Badminton Horse Trials preview event held in memory of Hannah Francis.

    The Vale of the White Horse (VWH) Hunt hosted Willberry does Badminton on 11 April at Wick Bottom Barn, Rockley, in aid of the Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony charity.

    In total, £18,000 was raised through the sale of tickets to the event, which included inspirational talks, a hog roast and music, as well as an auction.

    Among the riders speaking at the event were Mark Todd, Spencer Sturmey, Tim and Jonelle Price, Jonty Evans, Kitty King, Tom McEwen and Ben Hobday, who is a patron of Willberry Wonder Pony.

    Leading the discussion was Badminton’s new course designer, Eric Winter, who spoke about this year’s track.

    Young riders and Badminton first-timers Lissa Green and Danni Dunn also joined the guest speakers.

    Credit: Daniel Hague

    “It’s not every day you get to sit in between Mark Todd and Kitty King,” said H&H blogger Danni.

    “I was quite nervous because I would be much happier riding in front of thousands rather than speaking to a room full of 300 people! But it actually turned out fun and went well — I enjoyed it immensely.

    “To top it all, the evening raised a huge amount of money so it was just brilliant all round.”

    Credit: Daniel Hague

    The auction offered money-can’t-buy prizes.

    A helicopter ride to Badminton was won for £500, a day in the life of Mary and Emily King for £240 and a morning on the gallops with Oliver Sherwood for £220.

    A Chilli Morning stud fee secured a winning bid of £1,000, and a signed copy of Valegro the book by Carl Hester went for £70.

    The event was made possible thanks to hosts Susie and Konrad Goess-Saurau.

    Credit: Daniel Hague

    “We had a great evening and the weather was kind, so people could enjoy their drinks outside,” said Susie.

    “Willberry Wonder Pony is such an inspiring charity and we were so pleased to be able to raise so much on the evening.

    “I am very grateful to Ben and all the riders who supported the event and wish them well at Badminton!”

    Continued below

    Equestrian photographer and charity representative Jon Stroud added: “We were delighted to see such a fantastic and enthusiastic turnout for Willberry does Badminton and its accompanying online auction,”

    “For such great names in the sport to continue to offer their time and support in the name of Hannah is both heartwarming and inspiring.

    “Thank you, everyone, for your amazing effort and for the outstanding sum raised.”

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