Bicton Arena Manager Helen West scoops two prestigious national awards
Helen West, who only joined the Clinton Devon Estates team as Arena Manager last year, has won British Eventing’s Course Design Scholarship along with the title “Organiser of the Year” voted for by a panel of consultants working for the Event Riders Association.
The Design Scholarship award followed a day of panel interviews and practical field assessments at the home of well-known equestrian Mark Phillips in Cherington, Tetbury. Helen explained: “After a 45-minute interview with Mark Phillips, Patricia Clifton and Les Smith, I was given an armful of white stakes and sent outside to peg-out two cross-country course combinations for a novice and an advanced track. I needed to consider the dimensions of the jumps as well as the timber I would use before briefing the course builder on exactly what I wanted.
“I noticed that there was a beautiful Cotswold stone wall bordering the grounds so I decided to incorporate that natural feature in my design. Although I’ve previously designed lower-level courses this scholarship gives me the opportunity to be mentored by some of the best course designers in the country.”
Helen added: “Since Bicton Arena has been awarded international status for its April Horse Trials next year, we will be hosting two CIC competitions which means that riders can compete at one or two star level and gain qualification for the next level of international competitions. An improved knowledge of how higher-level courses are designed and built will be extremely valuable for the future.”
Helen, who is a well-known event rider herself, first competed at Bicton Arena as a seven year old. She went on to run her own competition yard at Ipplepen near Newton Abbot and now heads-up the Clinton Devon Estates team who manage Bicton Arena and various events and training courses throughout the year.
Helen’s title “Organiser of the Year” was awarded in recognition of her efforts last April in organising a third day of eventing at Bicton Arena at very short notice following the last minute cancellation of an important Badminton warm-up event at Withington in the Cotswolds.
Helen explained: “We were able to accommodate riders from all over the UK who were preparing for Badminton and they were extremely grateful to all of the team here – many of whom are volunteers.”
Leigh Rix, Head of Property and Land at Clinton Devon Estates said: “Helen has brought a wealth of experience and a huge amount of enthusiasm to her role as Bicton Arena Manager. Her recent successes will, no doubt, encourage even more riders on the eventing circuit to visit East Devon and enjoy our fantastic facilities, competitions and training.”
Bicton Arena at East Budleigh is set within Grade One listed parkland, offering cross country tracks from BE80 to Intermediate level, two all-weather ménages, providing year round facilities for schooling and dressage, six grass show jumping arenas, stabling for 116 horses and a facilities block.