JEDBURGH horsewoman Ann Fraser has been nominated for a prestigious national award.
She is one of 11 nominees for the British Horse Society’s (BHS) Queen’s Award, of which the Duke of Edinburgh and dressage doyenne Jennie Loriston-Clarke MBE are previous winners,
Mrs Fraser, of Overwells, said: “I’m quite touched that I have been nominated. It’s a great honour. When you see the previous recipients it’s a bit humbling.”
The former Pony Club mum was nominated by her peers for her work in countryside access and creation of the innovative Borders Festival of the Horse.
The nomination describes Mrs Fraser as having been “extremely active, enthusiastic and hard working” within the horse charity for more than 30 years.
“Her work on responsible equestrian access began in 1980 and she is now known as the ‘grandmother of Scottish access’,” the nomination continues. “She was singularly responsible for achieving the important principle, gaining the same rights for horse riders as walkers and cyclists, when the Land Reform (Scotland) Act became law in 2003.”
It praises her work in creating the horse festival in 2002, in the aftermath of the foot and mouth outbreak. The festival now includes 40 events over 14 days, attracting 10,000 people and horses.
Mrs Fraser explained how it came about. “The equine industry in the Borders had really fallen apart [as a result of foot and mouth outbreak],” she said. “Several people had gone out of businesss.
“It was like a ghost valley. There was no-one walking, cycling or riding through – we never saw anyone.
“I had always said the Borders was Scotland’s horse country, with the most number of horses per head of population of any of the regions in Scotland, so we came up with the idea of this shop window to bring everything back to life again. It’s grown from there.”
On the success of the festival, Mrs Fraser said: “It’s an opportunity to see everything that the horse can do, and we are always trying to introduce new things. “
The nomination continues to describe Mrs Fraser, who worked as BHS’s access officer in Scotland for 12 years, as the driving force behind the scenic off-road network of routes, South of Scotland Countryside Trails.
“She was instrumental in the BHS drawing down £750,000 of European funding to develop the 650-mile network of multi-use tracks in the Borders which have given immense pleasure to many leisure riders and is a great complement to the BHS’s Horses Welcome scheme [bed and breakfast for horses and riders].”
Mrs Fraser has also been a Riding for the Disabled (RDA) instructor for 35 years and is a past chairman of the Scottish Rural Property and Business Association’s south-east of Scotland branch.
She rode as a child and started again later, when she hunted. She breeds racehorses and explains her lifelong love of horses: “They are very character-building animals, they’re great levellers.
“They can give so much to so many people. They can do so much for so many people, which I learned through RDA.”
Horse Society chairman Dr Phil Wadey said: “All 11 nominees for the BHS Queen’s Award have been identified as having made an outstanding contribution to the sport, and there can be fewer accolades more enviable than being acclaimed by one’s peers.”
The winner of the award will be announced later this year.