Safety awards presented in honour of Sefton
Outstanding contributions in the field of riding and road safety were recognised at The British Horse Society’s Sefton Awards, held at the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment's Barracks, Knightsbridge, London on Wednesday (8 October).
The awards were set up by the Society in 1990 as a legacy to Sefton, the Household Cavalry horse who survived the IRA bombings in London in 1982. Sefton was 19 years old at the time of the bombings. He underwent eight hours of surgery and became a household name.
This year there were three recipients of the honour. The first of these was Robbie Woolford, from Windsor, Berkshire. In December 2012 Robbie was out riding when an irate taxi driver drove straight at her and her horse, stopping just a yard away. The experience left Robbie traumatised and convinced that something had to be done. Already campaigning with her Parish Council for lower speed limits and horse signs on the roads, Robbie raised her game. She began addressing local drivers of the need for consideration when passing horses on the road and earlier this year the council erected the long awaited horse signs.
Speaking of her achievements she said: "This is only a small part of it, I'm not finished yet! I would like a Pegasus crossing [a specialised road crossing for horses and riders] and I would like the speed limit to come right down. I was amazed to be nominated for this award and today really has been very special. It's been a really wonderful day and I feel very undeserving."
The second recipient was Alison Harris from Harrogate, Yorkshire. Through her hard work and enthusiasm Alison was able to use the Tour de France starting in Yorkshire as a great opportunity to ensure that visiting cyclists were aware of how to act when they met horses on the winding Yorkshire lanes. By distributing guidance leaflets and organising trade stands at Festivals on the Tour route, Alison not only helped to keep horse riders and cyclists safe during the busy weeks of the Tour but also raised awareness of the wider need for cyclists and horses to work in harmony on the road.
“I feel very honoured to have been singled out to receive this award as someone who has done something for road safety,” said Alison. “As a horse rider myself I am acutely aware of the fact that educating all road users is extremely important in the interests of all our safety.”
The third recipient, Mary Lloyd from Crewe, Cheshire, was due to receive her award in 2013 but unfortunately this was not possible due to her mother’s ill health. Mary was recognised for her efforts to raise awareness amongst drivers of the need to take care around horses following a number of incidents involving horses and vehicles near her home. She worked tirelessly in her local community, distributing advice literature, talking to drivers, and even successfully erecting a roadside billboard which is seen by huge numbers of drivers on a daily basis.
“To receive the award today has been very special,” said Mary, who dedicated the award to her mum. “It's been very emotional but a wonderful experience and probably one that I will never get to repeat in my lifetime again.”
In an area with a high horse population, expectations would be for drivers to be aware of the need to give horses plenty of room. But in December 2012 Robbie Woolford was riding across the road when an irate taxi driver drove straight at her, stopping just a yard away. Horse and rider were fully equipped with hi-viz clothing. The event left Robbie traumatised and firmly believed the taxi driver did it just to scare her.
Robbie was also aware that three ridden horses had recently been involved in a dreadful accident, resulting in injuries to all riders and two horses being destroyed a short distance from where she faced the taxi.
Already campaigning with her Parish Council for lower speed limits and horse signs on the roads, Robbie raised her game. Armed with BHS posters and leaflets, she made the taxi office her first stop. She flooded the local area with literature and addressed many drivers in person, explaining the hazards of inconsiderate driving and public safety.
Garnering support from her local BHS committee, Robbie worked even harder to persuade the Parish Council to make changes. A large paragraph appeared in their newsletter regarding courtesy to equestrians and, in April 2014, Robbie was delighted when the council erected the long awaited horse signs. She continues her battle to reduce the 60 mph speed limit.
When Alison Harris became aware of the Tour de France starting in Yorkshire, she decided to ensure that visiting cyclists were aware of how to act when they met horses on the winding Yorkshire lanes.
With limited time, Alison set to work distributing as many copies of the BHS Code of Conduct for Horse Riders & Cyclists as possible.
Supported by her county committee and BHS HQ, Alison organised leaflet distribution to cycle shops and cycling clubs. She attended events where she spoke to cyclists and organised trade stands at two of the cycling festivals on the Tour route.
Through her proactive promotion of the need for cyclists and horses to work in harmony on the road, Alison has not only raised the profile to a wider world of the BHS as an organisation, but also the need for cyclists to be particularly careful when meeting horses on the winding, twisty lanes of her beloved county.
Mary Lloyd was so upset by the number of incidents involving horses and vehicles near her home that she felt compelled to take action. Determined to raise awareness amongst drivers of the need to take care around horses, Mary contacted the BHS Safety team to share her idea to erect a roadside billboard. Undeterred by planning regulations, problems with artwork for the 6ft x 4ft billboard and finding an appropriate roadside location, Mary forged ahead. She paid for the artwork conversion and printing costs herself, and enlisted the help of a farmer who erected the sign in an excellent spot, ensuring it was seen by a huge number of drivers on a daily basis.
Not content with this success, Mary’s pro-active work continues. She is regularly seen distributing BHS road safety literature, talking to drivers and promoting the dedicated BHS safety website at farmers’ markets, veterinary practices, driving schools, agricultural shows and country events.