Willberry Wonder Pony needs your help to win international award

  • The legacy of inspirational teenage event rider Hannah Francis is in the running for a major international award – but it needs your help.

    Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony Charity has been shortlisted for the FEI’s solidarity award, which is 50% decided by public vote (link to vote below).

    Jon Stroud, who knew Hannah and is now spokesman for her charity, said he would “ask people to consider voting for us”.

    “We’re hugely excited and incredibly honoured,” Jon told H&H.

    “From such tiny and genuinely humble beginnings, this is phenomenal. We’re always so excited by what goes on with the charity and this kind of recognition is quite mind-blowing.”

    Jon helped Hannah fulfil her “bucket list”, which included riding the guinea pig dressage test at Tattersalls International Horse Trials in 2016, and got to know her well.

    “They’re over-used terms but she was the most incredible, inspirational person you’re ever likely to meet,” he said.

    “Her determination – no matter bad things were for her, she was always more concerned about others’ wellbeing. That’s what endeared her to so many people, and why so many are determined to help carry on her legacy.

    “You don’t see that in people very often and when you do, it has a significant impact.”

    All funds raised by Willberry Wonder Pony go towards bone cancer research and granting horsey wishes to people with serious illnesses.

    “All of us who work in the charity remain very determined to carry on, not just because of the charity but for the tangible legacy of everything Hannah was,” said Jon.

    “I know she’s still smiling from ear to ear about all this, I should think she’s squealing with delight.”

    To vote, visit the FEI website. Voting is open until 1 October.

    Others on the shortlists include Ireland’s Harry Allen, in the rising star category and Brits Alan Davies and Imogen Mercer, who are both finalists in the grooms category. The athlete of the year award will go to Ingrid Klimke, Peder Fredricson, Isabell Werth or Peop Puch.

    For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

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