Fun equestrian event brings in thousands

The Wark family's Flower Pot Men entry, class winners in the fancy dress competition, were presented with their prizes by Lisa Hobday (Ben's mum).
The Wark family's Flower Pot Men entry, class winners in the fancy dress competition, were presented with their prizes by Lisa Hobday (Ben's mum).

A major community effort has helped a fund-raising event to reach an amazing total.

The show and party, which featured a variety of classes and activities, took place earlier this month at Todburn Equestrian Centre near Longhorsley.

Thousands of pounds were collected on the day and further donations in recent days means that £30,000 has been brought in to support cancer treatment in the region.

Members of the Northumberland equestrian community also put together the event to show their support for professional Ben Hobday, who has achieved success at European level with Uptons Who and completed Badminton Horse Trials on the super cob Mulry’s Error in May.

He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma earlier in the summer and he is receiving treatment at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

All proceeds are going to Bright Red, a charity which aims to improve the lives and treatment of people with blood cancer across the north of England.

A plethora of local riders participated and others came from as far afield as Scotland and Yorkshire.

With more than 100 competitors in the dressage and combined training classes and a good number of entries for the novice and showing classes, it was a busy day for all the judges. In addition, the show jumping went on into the early evening.

Many riders showed their support for Ben and Bright Red on the day by wearing something red, which ranged from red plaiting bands to red jodphurs.

The marquee was at capacity, with nearly 400 people attending the evening activities that included live music and an auction, which raised £15,000.

Elaine Carmichael, who helped to run the event, said: “It is quite unbelievable how quickly we managed to stage this fund-raiser.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to everyone who volunteered to help in so many ways – not one person said no – and the donations of cash and items for the auction from residents, organisations and businesses went far beyond what we expected.

“It restores your faith in human kindness to realise that people are so willing to support Ben and this worthwhile charity. Not only are we raising funds, but we are raising awareness of the importance of blood/stem cell donation.”

There was also a fun element to the day, with many enjoying the clear round, fancy dress, handy pony and Bruno Hobday novelty dog show activities.

There were a variety of trade stands and one with representatives from Bright Red, bottle stalls and a tombola and raffle.

The highlight of the day for many was seeing Ben himself at the event. He attended for a couple of hours and signed some rosettes and photos.

He said: “I am overwhelmed by the support people have shown. This event has given me a massive boost and something to focus on in difficult times.”

Ashley Elliott, Bright Red’s charity manager said: “We’re thrilled by the amount of money raised at the event.

“These funds could cover the cost of an outreach nurse for a whole year or a research project for a year. We can never thank the organisers enough for all their efforts.”