THE WINNER OF THE HANNAH FRANCIS AWARD
Drum roll please....
Willberry had such a tough time reading all of the awesome applicants for his best friends award. If only he had lots of awards to hand out... Each and every one reminded him of the inspirational qualities of his best friend and the pure strength and determination she showed the world.
So what was Claire’s breathe taking story? Over the last few years Claire has had a hellish time but she has always managed to continue eventing, THE sport she lives for (who does that remind you off..!), but to support others as well.
Claire’s brother Jamie fought cancer for three years, at the same time as Hannah. Claire was very involved in Jamie’s illness and even fonated her bone marrow for the transplant he underwent. Sadly Jamie died in April 2016, but not before Claire and her eventing friends did a skydive which raised £24,000 (!!!) for the teenage cancer trust #eventersjump4cancer.
The effect of losing a loved one is great, and unfortunately Claire was struck with serious depression. Amazingly she continued to compete up to intermediate level and even represented the south east region at CCIJ* at the Festival of Youth at Weston Park. Sadly in December 2017 she was fell off a friends horse and shattered one of her ankles. The first operation she had did not go to plan and Claire was left unable to use her left ankle and leg correctly.
Nevertheless, she carried on eventing (albeit at a lower level than before) and set up her own yard in May, using crutches and then an iwalk (a bit like a crutch that you can kneel on) to muck out and work the horses from the ground. She saw the eventing season out before having another operation to rectify the first. During this time she set up the ‘CDB Eventing Squad’ through which she mentors teenage riders who have mental health issues or who want support and advice. She has been contacted by teenagers all over the world.
Willberry was blown away with can-do attitude Claire showed to continue to be so successful in the sport she loves despite going through such tricky emotional and physical battles. Despite these personal battles, the support Claire has shown to people surrounding her is inspiring to see.
One things for sure, Jamie must be looking down with a heart filled with pride.