The late Hannah Francis has helped a young woman fulfill her dream of going to Badminton.
The inspirational teenage eventer, who died last year, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer in 2015 and continued to ride and live life to the full throughout her treatment.
She founded the Willberry Wonder Pony charity in May 2016 to fund research into bone cancer and grant horsey wishes for those with serious illnesses.
Lucy Watts, who has a life-limiting neuromuscular disease, said it has been her dream to go to Badminton on cross-country day since she was a child.
The charity arranged for self-confessed “horsey girl” Lucy, her family and her assistance dog Molly to enjoy a day at the CCI4*.
“I grew up watching Badminton on television every year, from the age of seven,” Lucy wrote in her blog for the charity.
“A horsey girl at heart, I rode from the age of six until I became disabled and seriously ill aged 14.
“Had I not been physically fit from riding and working at the yard, I would’ve ended up in a wheelchair years before I did.”
The 23-year-old has never had her own horse, but would take on the ride on project horses for her instructor, borrow horses from friends and was the “chief holiday horse carer”.
“Once a horsey person, always a horsey person. It never leaves you,” she added.
“We had an amazing day. I attended with my mum, my uncle and my nurse, who were suitably up to scratch on eventing, the rules and what riders to watch by the end of the day.”
The Willberry team arranged for Lucy to attend the press conference at the end of cross-country day with the top three riders — Michael Jung, Ingrid Klimke and Andrew Nicholson — and meet and chat to Michael.
“It was wonderful, the icing on the cake of a truly magical day,” said Lucy.
Champions raise thousands
The final total raised through last month’s Pertemps Champions Willberry Race at Cheltenham has reached £122,430.
A touching video of the day has been created by Phenix Digital.
More than 600 people applied to ride in the race, which was won by solider Ben Moore aboard the David Pipe-trained Three Star General.
Ben has had cancer himself and said he was riding for his daughter Grace, who has leukaemia.
A statement from the two benefiting charities, Willberry Wonder Pony and the Bob Champion Cancer Trust, said they are “totally humbled” and thanked everyone for their support.