First I’ll declare my vested interest: I was the main organiser of this, thanks to being the chief ERA behind-the-scenes Dogsbody! I’ve never organised anything like this before but was lucky to have two brilliant helpers, Sarah Carless (whose office is in the venue, so she was on hand to troubleshoot endlessly before the night of the Ball) and Nikki Goldup (@bandweventing on Twitter) who has organised fashion shows in the past, and has a fantastic eye for aesthetics, so was in charge of the whole look of the Ball, and she did a fantastic job… the helium-filled ERA letters were a lovely touch, and the tables looked awesome. Amy Benton did sterling work helping me to amass lots of lovely Raffle and Auction prizes, too.
We’d decided to have a 1920s/Gatsby theme, but to try to keep it fairly subtle beforehand so that guests did not feel pressurised into buying or hiring outfits unless they really wanted to. So, most gentlemen were in standard Black Tie, and many girls/ladies were in ‘normal’ party dresses, not tricked up as flappers! But some had made a real effort, and it gave the evening a very special look. Nikki wanted to avoid the ‘wedding look’ so bravely went for black decor, which worked fantastically well, as you can see in the photo.
We had a few absolutely indefatiguable BE Volunteers, including Tweeters @MsIdaDown and @SalisburyLad working as our Greeters, in amazing outfits. They recognised loads of riders/guests and were brilliant at directing people to the drinks and the Garden Room, where we’d laid out all the numerous Raffle Prizes (HUGE thanks to all our wonderful generous sponsors).
There was also my pet project, the “50 Shades of Grey” competition – photos of 50 famous grey event horses from across the years to the present day, some of which had to be named to win a prize, a fantastic piece of artwork from Nicholas Sulman Equestrian Artwork. It was a pencil copy of this piece on the right, of Sir Mark Todd winning Badminton on Land Vision. Beautiful work and it went to a very worthy winner: Jo Clarke correctly identified most of the horses and riders, and even die-hard Eventing Nerds were struggling, as some of the photos were particularly fiendish.
Huge thanks to all the photographers and individuals who let me use their photos for the project, who were of course credited. I’ll definitely try to do something similar again, it seemed popular and was a good talking point.
The BE Awards and the Shearwater Insurance /ERA Awards were also on display. I had trophies made with the ERA logo etched in, by Chrystalis3d, and they looked fantastic. I saw examples of their products on display at Burghley and was instantly smitten: they would make a lovely keepsake of a favourite eventing or pet photo.
The drinks reception was a bit of a crush, but we were soon ushered through into the marquee for dinner. Starters were served, then the main course was an extensive buffet to which we were taken 2 tables at a time. Meanwhile my dedicated teams were busy selling raffle tickets. We had a huge selection of Raffle prizes, and are very grateful to all the companies and individuals who generously gave items. Please have a look at the list and consider using these companies for future purchases, to reward them for their generosity… I know I will! Between courses we were entertained by the Flaming Feathers dance troupe, in burlesque and flapper outfits.
The speeches and Awards started after dinner, and I have to admit that these were not as slick as they should have been – our rehearsal obviously wasn’t strict enough, since the BE winners didn’t seem to realise that they had to actually bother to come up and receive their prizes, they were too busy having fun on their table! Also, the microphone wasn’t working at a distance, although it was deafening up close (where I was, finding and handing over trophies, not as easy as you’d think in semi-darkness!), so I can only apologise to those who couldn’t hear, especially over the very rowdy tables at the end of the marquee.
The BE Awards:
The John Burder Trophy, first introduced in 1981 and is presented annually to the British rider with the best performance at the Young Rider European Championships. HOLLY WOODHEAD
The Goldman Cup. The Goldman Cup, one of British Eventing’s oldest trophies first presented in 1958 goes to the leading U21 rider.
Foundation Points Champion Rider – Champions rider based on BE’s Foundation Points. James topped the Foundation Points League with 470 FP’s. JAMES SOMMERVILLE
The ERA/Shearwater Awards, very kindly sponsored by Shearwater Insurance Services:
Shearwater/ERA British Event of the Year 2013, for the Organisers which the ERA team considered had responsed the most positively and helpfully to ERA’s Feedback Process: Jackie Seddon and Clem Tompsett MBE for Isleham.
Shearwater/ERA Social Media Award 2013 – voted by ERA members and followers on Twitter and Facebook.
1st Sarah-Jane Brown (Shoestring Eventing) collected on her behalf by Aimi Clark (2nd Laura Collett, 3rd Paul Tapner)
Shearwater/ERA Riders’ Choice Award 2013 – again, voted by ERA members and followers.
1st William Fox-Pitt (2nd Laura Collett, 3rd Simon Grieve)
The next 2 award winners were chosen by a panel of eventing luminaries who were consulted by ERA reps.
Shearwater/ERA Rising Star Award 2013 – Ludwig Svennerstal
Shearwater/ERA Most Influential Rider of the Year 2013 – Andrew Nicholson (collected on his behalf by Jonty Evans, looking very fetching in glittery false eyelashes!)
Shearwater/ERA Against All Odds Award 2013 (as voted by ERA Followers on Twitter and Facebook): Simon Grieve
Simon also received a special additional prize: a very generous voucher for a weekend’s stay, for 2, at any of the Mr & Mrs Smith boutique range of hotels. This prize was very kindly donated by an ERA member who was extremely moved & inspired by Simon’s blog of his struggle to get to Burghley this year after major health complications. A wonderful prize to a very worthy winner.
The ERA Directors had arranged for a cartoon from Emily Cole of ERA Chairman Francis Whittington, his star horse Sir Percival III, and his team, as thanks for his labours on behalf of ERA, and this was a surprise presentation to him, by ERA Director Nick Wallbridge.
The top few Raffle prizes were drawn and presented on stage (the rest were drawn immediately behind the scenes and then listed on boards and available for collection later, or we’d have all been without music for another 1/2 an hour!)
So, finally, our live band, Fat Boy Swing got going, albeit rather behind our planned timings! People got up to dance straight away, and shortly after the DJs of Euphoria got The Vaults rocking. It was absolutely crushed down there but the atmosphere was fantastic, and guests danced the night away, on the two dancefloors, fortified by midnight snacks of bacon butties and Say It With Brownies‘ finest offerings, which all went down exceptionally well!
There were some serious revelries and I’m quite proud to report that we drank the whole place dry, not only of the copious amounts of booze ordered in for us, but also their entire Christmas drinks order! Ingleside was a wonderful venue and we are very grateful for all their hard work to make this a real night to remember for all of us.
All photos were taken by e-Venting’s own Katie Mortimore.