The humble volunteer

Inside XC control waiting for the off!

Inside XC control waiting for the off!

Hi! I’m Amanda and most weekends (and some weekdays) I am one of the merry band of volunteers (well I’m merry as long as it’s not raining and I’ve got cake) who help run the many BE events up and down the country.

Don’t get me wrong – if I had a pair of brave pants along with a horse that would stay sound long enough for me to get him fit then I would love to join in and take part, but I don’t and he doesn’t so I sit on the sidelines as a part of the team that enables you all to have fun and I take great enjoyment from it.

How did I get into volunteering? It was through my Riding Club at the time that I got roped into fence judge at a Hunter Trials. I couldn’t have made too much of a hash of it as I was later asked if I would like to Fence Judge at Chepstow International Horse Trials (which is making a comeback this year – I hope you are all going to support it?). That was about 15 years ago and I remember it being a lovely friendly family day out and one that we all used to look forward too as well as being a great chance to catch up with friends. For the last couple of years Chepstow ran I was flying solo as daughter was now old enough to be out and about eventing and husband had more pressing things to do with his time so I had a sideways move into the Start team which was fun (it was great when my daughter got to compete there – the venue that lit the spark as it were!).

Over the years I have been asked to carry out several different roles including Fence Judging, Cross Country Collecting Ring, Dressage Stewarding, Stopping Point, Crossing Point, Provisional Scoring in Control, Scoreboard Assistant, & Scoring Assistant. I have visited many beautiful places and met hundreds of lovely people, but I think the pinnacle so far would have been on 30th July 2012 when I was lucky enough to be sat in Cross Country Control at THE LONDON OLYMPICS! Me at the Olympics! How on earth did I end up there? It was the most surreal experience of my life being part of the 4 strong team responsible for capturing all the scores received from the Fence Judges via their radios (and watching the bank of TV screens) and updating the scoring system for the whole event – it was such an honour and one I shall never forget (and I could bore you for hours – but I must move on!)

Cross country Start & Control @ the Olympics

Cross country Start & Control @ the Olympics

On average I spend about 20 days a year volunteering – my CEO did ask me today if I ever took a day’s holiday that wasn’t to help at an event (yes I take a few days off each year to meet up with some friends at a Stockland Lovell Residential Camp – does that count?). We find it difficult to go away on holiday due to our animals –(horses -currently 4), cats and dog, so having day trips’ out to events is just as good – isn’t it?

My 2013 season was meant to kick off at Gatcombe Park this weekend as part of the start team but rain and snow stopped play. In preparation this year I attended one of the excellent free Fence Judge training days put on by BE held at Mount Ballan Manor – we met in a village hall close to the event site, were fed tea & coffee then Chris Shaw went through the basics of fence judging, this year’s rule changes and the all important health & safety. A lovely spot of lunch was followed by walking part of the course at Mount Ballan and discussing the different fences and the different scenarios that you could come across including the procedure for stopping a horse, how to assess the best place to park your car & where to sit to have the best view of your fence. It was great to meet some new volunteers who were attending prior to their first fence judge experience and it was good to feel that the new season is only just around the corner – lets just hope the weather sorts itself out and we have a better season as us volunteers don’t like it when events cancel either! The day was also a good chance to also catch up with some of the ‘Greenwich Massive’ i.e. Jenny Smith and Ivor Welfare. (Jenny, by the way has been voted British Eventing’s Volunteer of the year for 2012 and is due to be presented her prize at Badminton Horse Trials this year)

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