Friday, May 10, 2013

Badminton Horse Trials Part 1

Friday 3rd May, at Badminton Horse Trials

I'd arranged to be at the showground on Friday and Saturday as Mike had kindly offered to look after the animals at home.  Originally I'd planned to do my daily run before I left to travel to Badminton but then I got permission from the organisers to run around with my scarf so it seemed too good an opportunity to miss.  

It was a journey of just under 200 miles each way and it took 3.5 hours, mostly on motorways, so I arrived around lunchtime.  I'd travelled in my running kit so that I could just get on with my run as soon as I got there before it got too crowded.  As I was parking a 4x4 pulled alongside and it was one of the GB team vehicles which was very exciting.

Team GB vehicle
There were numbers on each parking line so it was easy to find your vehicle
The first thing that greeted me was a massive line of portaloos so it felt like the start of a marathon but without the queues of anxious runners.  Of course I was desperate to go to the toilet - why is it that travelling always makes you want to go for a wee?!

First of all I trotted off to find the ARUK stand, which looked fantastic and was positioned on a major walkway so was bound to attract lots of attention.

The ARUK stand, magnificent in all its purple splendour!
As I looked around, Sue appeared to greet me with a hug, perfect timing, so it was an ideal photo opportunity.  I showed the ladies my scarf and then it was time to head off for my run.

ARUK volunteers with Sue, on the right

As I headed off I walked past the Stevenson Brothers stand.  They produce the most beautiful rocking horses (and indeed rocking zebras if you check out their website!) and the owners live in my village so I had to pop in to say a quick hello and try a little rock on 'Acorn 11'.

Rocking the green trousers Marc!
Knitting and riding, now there's an idea..............

For my first run there I took the scarf with me, wrapped around my neck and tied at my waist - not a good look but it certainly got attention.  I was wearing my marathon top with the Guinness World Record 'Official Runner' sticker plus the deramores logo.  Lots of people stopped me to ask what I was doing with the scarf and some fellow knitters even asked about deramores as they hadn't heard of them.  They have now!

I ran around the perimeter of the grounds and towards the end I ran in some of the quieter areas near the stalls.  5.85 miles in total.  It was really interesting how many people stopped me and wanted to talk about their experiences of dementia.  Young and old alike.  When I finished my run I bought an ice-cream and the young man who served me told me about his granny who has dementia and it made me realise that we need to do more to engage with the younger generation as they could help drive research forwards to ensure that when they are older it is not such an issue.

Then I headed back to the ARUK stand to see what was going on and met up with Vicki and Jamie Graham, without whom this would not have happened (you are stars!).  Here's Jamie, draped in the scarf - he looks like a giant next to me doesn't he, all 6'4" of him.  Vicki had written "I have Alzheimer's, contact details overleaf" on his badge in case of emergency.

A giant among men wearing my scarf
At 5pm there was an ARUK reception, for invited guests, at the hospitality stand so I had to sneak off to the toilets and freshen up with some wet wipes and then get changed in my car (into my purchase, a dress, from Gudren Sjoden that I mentioned in my previous post).

There were lots of fellow Champions there, most of them drinking champagne but I couldn't as I had to drive to my hotel so I was on elderflower cordial.  Goodness knows how many photos were taken and there will be many emails exchanged over the next few days so I may have to be selective!  The one below was taken by Mick Moody who I'd seen just a few days earlier at he Alzheimer's Show.  His wife Elaine developed early-onset Alzheimer's at the age of 54 and passed away a few weeks ago.  Mick seems even more determined to help spread the word about research into Alzheimer's.  I loved Dione's blouse which had a horsey print all over.

2 smiley ladies (that's Dione Priddy whose husband Mark, now deceased, started developing early-onset Alzheimer's in his 30's)
After a lot of mingling and catching up with fellow supporters it was time for a few speeches.  In the photo below you can see Rebbeca, Chief Executive of ARUK but my attention was on Richard Meade, triple Olympic gold medal winner who was one of my icons as a horse-mad teenager.

Thanks to Vicki Graham I was introduced to him and have lots of wonderful photos of me with him which I will treasure.  Unfortunately I had one of those babbling fools moments when she introduced us and I told him that I used to have a poster of him riding The Poacher on my bedroom wall as a teenager - how embarrassing!

Richard Meade OBE
Here we have Jamie and Vicki who have been tremendous Champions and raised tons of money for ARUK since Jamie's diagnosis a few years ago.  Vicki has always been a keen horsewoman and has been visiting Badminton since the age of 13 as she lives quite nearby.  She also told me that she had acted as an interpreter at the Mexico Olympics back in 1968 so has a long association with Richard Meade and the world of eventing.

Jamie and Vicki Graham
I wanted to show this photo of Fiona, the official photographer, as she worked tirelessly, snapping away all evening.  We had a lovely chat after she'd taken the next photo of me.  Thanks Fiona, you did a grand job.

Fiona the photographer
I'm loving the faux bookcase drapes behind me!
After the speeches it was time for a bit of mingling and more photos:

Me with Vicki (and Richard Meade's left arm) 
Lots of mingling going on (I always like the unposed photos as they capture  the atmosphere)
Back row from left to right:

Rebecca Wood, ARUK Chief Executive
Sir David Mayhew, ARUK Chairman
Dr Eric Karran,  ARUK Director of Research
Richard Meade OBE

Front row:
Jamie and Vicki Graham, ARUK Champions
Afterwards I headed off to the hotel for a bite to eat and a large glass of wine.  Just as I'd finished eating I had  a phone call from Sue to say that the ARUK team had just arrived at the hotel and would I like to join them, which was nice.  So another glass of wine was forced down my neck (well it didn't take too much forcing actually!!!!) and we had a good old natter then off to bed as I needed to be up early to get to the showground to do my run before the crowds arrived.

Part 2 to follow shortly!

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