Applications are invited from those who wish to become a member of BEWA. To be considered applicants need to be proposed and seconded by current members of the association and maybe required to send in samples of their work. All applications are put to the committee at the annual AGM. An application form is available to download from the site.
The British Equestrian Writers’ Association was conceived over a rather too-convivial dinner during the 1973 Rome horse show, when Brian Giles, the late Ron Wills and I felt it might be a good idea to bring those of us who covered equestrian sport into some sort of cohesive body.
In those heady days just about every national newspaper had an equestrian correspondent, even the tabloids: Wills wrote for the Daily Mirror, Giles for the Daily Mail while I was in my second decade with the Daily Telegraph.
When we returned home the idea was not greeted with universal approbation – “I don’t want to join a trade union”, being the main objection. But our plan was principally to try to improve working conditions, and within weeks such a need was shown, when, at the Royal International Horse Show, then at the Wembley Arena, the press were asked to work in a dim, windowless room in the bowels of the building.
Our request for somewhere better was greeted by Colonel Mike Ansell, who ruled the show, and British jumping generally, saying that he would not discuss the matter with a mob, but would talk to a couple of us. So BEWA came into being.
Having established our main aim, which remains an ongoing one, the committee then decided to award a trophy to the year’s outstanding rider and to present it at an annual lunch. Since then we have added trophies for Young Riders and Juniors, and one to go to someone we felt had been of great benefit to the sport behind the scenes.
I was elected the first chairman, and except for a few years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the late Michael Williams took over, remained in that position until the end of 2008, when I retired from The Daily Telegraph and felt it was time for young blood to run BEWA as well. Kit Houghton was elected chairman, with Kate Green succeeding Genevieve Murphy as vice chair and Pippa Roome taking over from Gillian Newsum as secretary. Kate and Pippa are, thankfully, still in place but Kit – who, as Kate said had, in his four-year tenure, ‘brought BEWA into the 21st century’ – has passed on his mantle to Andrew Baldock, whose professionalism and experience as a sports writer with the Press Association can only be to BEWA’s benefit. Maintaining the highest standards at a time when interest among newspapers has been in sharp decline (it will be interesting to see if British riders’ success at the 2012 Olympics produces an improvement) will continue to prove a severe test. The creation of this website is already evidence of the new regime’s determination to meet that challenge, and I have no doubt it will continue to do so.
Founder Member and Past President of BEWA