ON Saturday, August 4, the Iveagh Pony Club are hosting a Ruby Show in honour of Vanne Campbell’s extraordinary 40 years as District Commissioner of the Iveagh branch. She was elected on October 10, 1978 following the retirement of Mrs Di Watson.
Throughout Ireland (and England) in the Pony Club and Eventing World, Vanne Campbell is an instantly recognisable figure with Indiana Jones hat and clipboard. A familiar figure in the start box at the events, wishing all competitors good luck and possibly booking them to teach at camp or enrol them for a B test at the same time!
Iveagh Pony Club was founded in 1962 with Vanne’s mother on the Committee and both her parents were instructors, she and her brother Ralph Cowdy were active members, Ralph subsequently joined the Cadre Noir, one of the most prestigious horsemanship schools in the world. Vanne admitted that she was a nervous rider, which explains why she is so good at encouraging the less confident members of the Pony Club and helping them find their area of expertise.
Iveagh have always had a higher ratio of boys: girls than other clubs, at one stage in the 1990s, the Junior Games team were all boys! Vanne encouraged the boys by ensuring they tried tetrathlon, games, polo-crosse and even a camp ride of reluctant boys (plus Emily), who spent just as much time running beside ponies as on them! She was delighted to be photographed tying Declan McParland’s stock at the Pony Club Championships having a similar photo with his father Phelim “several” years earlier.
Vanne’s children Jamie, Georgina, Nicola and Duncan, and now grandchildren, Finn, Thea and Lorne, were all active members of Iveagh. Its large membership is a tribute to Vanne’s policy of inclusivity, all are made to feel welcome, and it is very hard to escape when a member. Her “pincer” technique is famous, if you refuse one request to help, she has an alternative plan ready for you! One of her other main contributions was the development of the E test, for very Junior members, which subsequently was taken on board by all the other Pony Clubs.
Vanne also delights in all the Pony Club competitions and, under her watch, the Iveagh have been a force to be reckoned with at the Dengie Final, Pony Club Championships and Hickstead, showing incredible success winning individual and team awards in most disciplines. Vanne usually insists on travelling on the lorries with the teams, often coaching them on route, quiz questions firing out during the journey and even help on science papers (for GCSE and A level candidates). When at competition, Vanne looks after her teams with tiger-like ferocity!
The Ruby Anniversary Show will be held at Iveagh PC Grounds at Moyallon and will hopefully have something for everyone. It includes the famous Moyallon Kehoe Kars Derby and a Mini Major Competition, emulating the one at HOYS, which Vanne particularly enjoys. Organisers have been lucky to have entries from many eminent ‘Majors’, paired with Minis from a variety of Pony Clubs.
There will be Dengie Qualifiers at all levels and jumping from Cross-Poles upwards in the Walled Garden Arena; there will also be games in the Playpen for younger members later in the day and a wonderful Hog Roast with music by Jimmy Riddle from 6-8pm for all, together with Face Painting and fun for the Titchy Wees.
Entries for the Mini-Major Competition include many famous names from around the Province, who compete with junior members from clubs around Northern Ireland and it looks as though it will be a very tough, cut-throat event… Iveagh are delighted to welcome names such as Liz and Laura Brown, Rachelle Harding, Vina Buller, Roz Murphy, Ronnie Morton, Becky Cullen, Lisa Tumilty, Grainne Bennett, Ronnie Ross, Ron Schaeffer, Antonia Donnelly, Iveagh-bred Hylda Mills, Niall McAlinden, Jim McCann, Dermott Lennon, Suzanne Hagan, Jonny Mulligan, Matthew Johnston and Katie Patterson.
Iveagh would be delighted to see as many Pony Club friends as possible from all over Ireland to celebrate 40 years of Vanne.
Enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org