We would like to say a huge thank you to Clare Balding for a thoroughly entertaining evening at our Fundraiser for the BHS‘s Changing Lives through Horses Charity. Over £2,300.00 was raised for this very worthwhile cause last Tuesday, the 6th November.

Charisma, professionalism, great attitude; that means Clare Balding. The excitement grew in the Cannizaro House’s lovely reception rooms as we started the evening, catching up over welcome drinks.  Discreetly, Clare arrived; the anticipation increased. It was then over to the conference room. Firstly, David Sheerin, Chair of BHS, spoke about the charitable initiative. Then, Clare then took centre stage to deliver her talk, “My Life in Horses”.

Clare grew up in Kingsclere, Hampshire, and is from a racing family. Her father told her to be a jockey you have to break your collar bone and fall off 100 times! This was an important lesson in life. When things go wrong, you have to get back on. Later, Clare vividly recalls the example of being late for her radio broadcast and she turned up too breathless to speak. This did not put her off.

Already a famous sports personality by then, it was in the 2012 London Olympics when Clare noticed the big step change in the public’s recognition. She was awarded an OBE for this work. Clare told us how she tried to make the swimming sound engaging not an easy task. South African, Chad Le Clos, beat Olympic champion Michael Phelps by a fraction of a second to win the gold medal. Clare knew what was needed was the angle from the family. She sought out the father, Bert, who gave one of the most famous interviews in sports broadcasting history, enthusing about his “boy’s victory.

Clare’s humour shone through, aided by gesticulation, impersonation and passion. She told us of her uncomfortable experiences riding as a jockey competing with Princess Anne. There was some controversy in the racing incidents; the plot was more Dallas than Palace! Guess who was then on Royal duty of course on the day that Clare was awarded the OBE!

A great sense of humour does not stop Clare from being a serious person. She spoke movingly about the struggles for proper professional recognition in women’s tennis; the challenges, the choices the biggest names such as Billie-Jean King faced in that era. Clare infused warmth about the successes of the 2012 Olympics and the Paralympics, showing her commitment to widening participation in sport and the great wider benefits it brings.

Clare is famous for her writing too, starting with her first book, “My Animals and Other Family. She writes popular children’s books and signed very many copies for us that night.

Meeting Clare is special; even amongst such numbers she was so kind and so interested in every single person she met. It was a very special evening which we will all treasure, being reminded every time we see Clare on the television.

Thank you to everyone else who supported the event, bought raffle tickets, donated raffle prizes and bought books and also to Hotel du Vin for providing such a wonderful venue and for looking after us all so well. Fantastic photos Natasha Brown – thank you!

Clare thank you so much. We hope that you can ride on Wimbledon Common with us. There will always be a space waiting for you at WVS Stables, in the saddle and in our hearts.