Rare honour for British para equestrian guru Sir Lee Pearson

Grade 2 Freestyle winner Lee Pearson (GBR) and Breezer at Tokyo 2020.
British Dressage has awarded an Honorary Patronage to para equestrian rider Sir Lee Pearson.  © Jon Stroud Media

British para-equestrian stalwart Sir Lee Pearson has received an Honorary Patronage from British Dressage, only the second time such an honour has been bestowed.

Pearson received the award from chief executive Jason Brautigam at last weekend’s British Dressage (BD) annual National Convention at Hartpury. He joins Carl Hester who was recognised with the honour in 2016.

BD said it was “a fitting title for the extraordinary contribution made to our sport by this treasured athlete”.

“Lee is a pioneer, a barrier breaker, a stereotype challenger, a role model. His talent as a horseman knows no bounds and he’s an inspiration to many. Over 40 championship medals, team gold at six consecutive Paralympics, a knighthood for services to sport … it’s little wonder he’s affectionately called the ‘Godfather of Para Dressage’.”

Sharing in the presentation at Hartpury were Pearson’s parents, David and Linda Pearson, his teenage foster son and some of his support team who’ve been behind his extensive career.

Pearson said it was a great honour that the second ever honorary patronage went to a para rider.

“To be recognised by your own sport is lovely – sometimes it almost feels like we get more recognition outside, particularly as a ‘Paralympian’. But to be reminded how you’re appreciated in your sport is really nice and this isn’t just for me, its acknowledgment for para dressage, and those who’ve supported me along the way.”

He added with a wicked smile: “Now I’m part of the family, I can cause even more trouble!”

Many other awards were also presented at the convention, including:

The Tyrell Trophy for the highest placed British-bred mare competing at the National Championships to Hawtins Duchessa, a British Hanoverian mare bred and owned by Judith Davis.

Ruby Hughes, 13, of Warwickshire, won both the Maureen Newall Trophy for the highest percentage in their first international trip, and the Lucan Trophy for the highest placed British Pony rider in the Individual test at the European Championships.

Annabella Pidgley, 16, from Berkshire, won both the Trendell Trophy for the most successful Junior rider in the Team test at the Junior European Championships, and the Richmond Trophy for the highest placed Junior / Young Rider in the Freestyle at the Europeans.

Gracie Morgan, 15, from North Yorkshire received the BD Youth Academy Outstanding Achievement Award for the most outstanding performance or progress within the year.

A new award this year, the Sarah Whitmore Memorial Trophy is presented in memory of Sarah Whitmore and donated by Michael Voigt, for the highest placed British U25 rider in the team test at the FEI European Championships. It was won by Lewis Carrier, 24, from Norfolk, and includes a £500 bursary for dressage lessons.

Four individuals were recognised with the BD Medal of Honour; Waveney Luke, Carolyn Gardiner, David Trott and Elizabeth Walters.

Annual trophies were presented as follows:

Tyrell Trophy

Kindly donated by Lady Caroline Tyrrell, the trophy goes to the highest placed British-bred mare competing at the National Championships in 2016. 

Awarded to: Hawtins Duchessa, a British Hannoverian mare bred and owned by Judith Davis. The talented ten year old by Decamerone out of a Don Frederico mare finished reserve champion in both the Saracen Horse Feeds Inter 1 Gold straight and freestyle classes at Somerford.


Worshipful Company of Saddlers

Kindly donated by the Worshipful Company of Saddlers, a handcrafted leather headcollar was awarded to the winning para rider from each grade in the Equissage Pulse Summer Gold Championships held as part of the LeMieux National Championships at Somerford Park.

Awarded to:  

  • Grade 1 – Gabriella Blake (28 from Lincolnshire) with her super grey Strong Beau on a score of 74.16% – the highest score across the grades
  • Grade 2 – Julie Payne (59 from Oxfordshire) who partnered Cornelia Cook’s Divinity to score 67.01% which topped the podium.
  • Grade 3 – Erin Orford (32 from Buckinghamshire) riding LJT Diamond Crusador for The Lady Joseph Trust impressed with 69.51% to take the title.
  • Grade 4 – Nicola Naylor (60 from Kent) with Humberto L topped the grade with 70.89%.
  • Grade 5 – Charlotte Cundall (36 from North Yorkshire) and FJ Veyron, owned by The Veyron Partnership, topped a fantastic season for the Yorkshire rider with the championship title on a score of 70.31%.

The BDSC Pony Trophy

Kindly donated by the BDSC Committee, this trophy is awarded to the Pony rider who, in the Selectors’ opinion, has produced the best performances at Premier League shows during 2021.

Awarded to: Mette Dahl (15) from West Sussex with BKS George Clooney.

The Maureen Newall Trophy

Presented in memory of Maureen Newall who was Chief Pony Selector from 1998 to 2003, this trophy is awarded to the pony and rider combination gaining the highest percentage in their first international trip abroad in the Pony Team test.

Awarded to: Ruby Hughes (13 from Warwickshire), whose trip to Poland for the Pony Europeans was her first time competing on the continent. With Hilkens Showgirl, she scored 70.71% in the Team Test.

The Lucan Trophy

Kindly donated by Mrs Kathryn Heappey, the Lucan Trophy goes to the highest placed British Pony rider in the Individual test at the European Championships.

Awarded to: Ruby Hughes (13 from Warwickshire), who her British squad debut, piloted Shirley Rixton’s striking palomino mare to post 71.38% which put them 19th in the Individual class.

The Trendell Trophy

Kindly donated by long-term supporter Christine Trendell, this trophy is awarded to the most successful Junior rider in the Team test at the Junior European Championships.

Awarded to: Annabella Pidgley (16 from Berkshire). Riding her mum Sarah’s Sultan des Paluds FRH, Annabella, on her Junior debut, posted 75.45% which headed the team test at the Championships.

The Richmond Trophy

Kindly donated by the Duke and Duchess of Richmond, this trophy is awarded to the highest placed Junior / Young Rider in the Freestyle at the European Championships each year.

Awarded to: Junior rider Annabella Pidgley (16 from Berkshire).

After winning the team test, Annabella and Sultan des Paluds FRH went on to win silver in the individual test and followed with 80.11% in the Freestyle. This gave them a second silver of the championships, Britain’s first ever individual medals at Junior level.

 Pablo Picasso Trophy

Kindly donated by Penny and Fiona Bigwood, the trophy was commissioned to commemorate Fiona’s Junior/Young Rider horse, Pablo Picasso who made five European Championship appearances. On their behalf, it’s awarded to the highest placed British Young Rider in the team test at the European Championships.

Awarded to: Debutante Caitlin Burgess (20 from Gloucestershire) who rode her own Chocotof to an impressive 69.23% which gave them 13th place in the Team Test at the FEI Young Rider Europeans in Oliva in Spain.

BD Youth Academy Outstanding Achievement Award 

Kindly donated by the British Dressage Supporters Club, the BD Youth Academy Outstanding Achievement Award is awarded annually to the Academy Athlete who has shown the most outstanding performance or progress within the year. 

Awarded to: Academy athlete Gracie Morgan (15 from North Yorkshire) for her exceptional performances nationally and internationally this year, including at the 2021 Pony Europeans and a hat-trick of wins at the Keysoe CDI, with pony Ella

The Graduate Trophy

Kindly donated by the Butling family, the Graduate Trophy is presented to the rider in their last year of U21s who, in the Selectors’ opinion, has made the most progress in 2016.

Awarded to: Young Rider Charlotte Lutener (21 from West Yorkshire). Riding Full Fusion BS. With help from Jess Dunn and Becky & Hannah Moody, she and ‘Florence’ have scored some great results, including a win at Sheepgate British U25 Championships, finishing as the highest placed Young Rider in the British U21 Championships and a win just last weekend in the Inter I at the inaugural Aintree High Profile Show.

The Sarah Whitmore Memorial Trophy

New for 2021, this award is presented in memory of Sarah Whitmore and kindly donated by Michael Voigt. It’s awarded to the highest placed British U25 rider in the team test at the FEI European Championships.  The prize also includes a £500 bursary for dressage lessons.

Awarded to: Lewis Carrier (24 from Norfolk) who rode his own Diego V to 12th place with 70.47% in the Inter II class at the U25 European Championships, held in Hagen Germany in September.

Medal of Honour

This award recognises individuals who’ve made an outstanding contribution to the sport or given distinguished and long service.

Waveney Luke

Always one for ‘putting something back’, Waveney has enjoyed horses all her life but dressage and para dressage have always been her main love. She’s had a close involvement with the Riding for the Disabled, firstly as a coach and more latterly committee level and was made an Honorary Life Vice President to recognise her dedication.

She progressed her judging career with British Dressage and reached the level of List 2 nationally and was an FEI Para Judge before retiring from both in 2015.  As well as being a very successful trainer of para riders from grass roots to international levels, she has been a very influential part of Britain’s sustained period of unprecedented para success as part of the selection panel which covered two Paralympics at London and Rio. Waveney has now retired from all British Dressage activities and her dedication has been truly outstanding, the majority of activity carried out as a volunteer; giving hours of her time, a wealth of knowledge and being a great support to all of our para-equestrian athletes.

Carolyn Gardiner

List 2A judge Carolyn Gardiner retires this year from her role as Para Selector after an outstanding 12 years of service. She joined the panel in 2010 and brought a great deal of knowledge and expertise to the group. In 2016, she took on the role of Chief Selector and has headed the team through changing landscape as competition for medals in para dressage become more and more fierce. During her tenure, the para teams have delivered a staggering 101 medals, including team gold on all but two occasions. Carolyn, your dedication has been unwavering, and we applaud your judgement and leadership, particularly this year in the brave decisions made ahead of Tokyo.

David Trott

David, or Trotty as most know him, has been a mainstay of British dressage’s international endeavours for some five decades.  He joined the British Dressage Board of Directors in 2001 and he’s continued to have an involvement ever since. Selector, Chef d’Equipe, Performance Manager – David has served in every role. He started on British Dressage’s Junior Selection Panel in 1998 and served as Senior Selector Chairman from 2001 to 2008. He was then reappointed to the BD Board in 2012 as International Teams Director until he stood down in 2019. His services were retained on the Senior Selection Panel until he finally retired after the Tokyo Games this year. Over 20 years served as a volunteer and key player in selecting our teams.

David’s loyalty, dedication and integrity over his years of service to the sport of dressage are commendable. He has given the sport a great deal, helping to mentor and develop athletes, contributed to laying the foundations for a successful team environment and been a leader throughout.

Elizabeth Walters

Known by all as Lizzie, this is a lady who has made a real name for herself in a vital area of dressage which is often overlooked, the scoring team. A high-pressure role where patience, accuracy and an eye for detail are essential, Lizzie has headed up and been part of teams at every major dressage event since BD’s inception in 1998, largely as a volunteer. She’s scored at every National and Winter Championships under the BD banner but also been a key at major events such as Olympia, Horse of the Year Show, Royal Windsor – dating back to when the dressage was on grass, Hartpury Festival of Dressage and Addington Manor.

Scoring at the 2009 European Championships at Windsor and being part of the teams in London 2012 for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games would certainly feature on her highlights list I’m sure. Our major fixtures simply could not have run with out her and the many teams she’s led over the last 25 years or so. Lizzie has probably been to more shows than many in dressage but seen the least number of tests live as she’s been behind the scenes. The sport is grateful for all she’s done and the contribution to the success of all of the shows who have been fortunate to have her as part of the team. Lizzie will be missed from the competitions but can now enjoy some of the action first hand, without a calculator nearby.


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