A LEADING light in both the world of showing and showjumping, Ms Lewis died on 2 October at the age of 81.
She was the first woman to register as a British Showjumping (BS) course-designer and served as the organisation’s Bedfordshire area representative for 15 years.
Ms Lewis rode competitively and had a passion for point-topointing, becoming one of the first female point-to-point jockeys to ride competitively in Britain.
She was also a respected showing judge and a regular at Horse of the Year Show and the Royal International Horse Show.
Course-designer Steve Williams said Ms Lewis has left an “indelible mark” on showjumping, showing and equestrianism in general.
“Joan was the kindest, most warm-hearted and petite lady who stood tall as a giant of equestrianism,” he said.
“Her career, experience and empathy as an all-round equestrian made a legend who had the most enormous influence on the career paths of a vast number of officials, competitors and producers in showjumping and showing.”
Fellow course designer Peter Gillespie said Ms Lewis was his original mentor.
“In the mid-1970s she taught me so much and placed me in so many shows, sometimes assisting her but very soon she gave me my own arena work,” he said.
“Joan was not only the ‘complete horsewoman’ but her attitude, manner and knowledge when required was of the highest level to all, including me, for many many years.
“Joan gave me a wonderful career, that has lasted now over 41 years. I owe her so much. Just a thank you now seems inadequate.”
BS head of communications Maria Haig added that Ms Lewis was an “instrumental person” in her own life.
“Words can’t convey how much respect and affection I had for her and I will miss her dreadfully,” she told H&H.
“I think everyone will know Joan as a superb horsewoman and as having a passion for her dogs, but she also cared deeply about her friends, always making time for them and taking a genuine interest in their lives.”
Tim Price, director of Addington Manor Equestrian Centre, Buckinghamshire, told
H&H he had jumped Ms Lewis’ courses since he was a child.
“She was an all-round horsewoman,” he added. “She was very genuine and her knowledge was unbelievable.”
Her funeral will take place on Tuesday, 17 October at Crownhill Crematorium, Milton Keynes,and afterwards at Addington Manor.
Anyone planning to attend is asked to email: maria.haig@ britishshowjumping.co.uk
A HORSEMAN and friend to the showing community, Mr Willett died aged 62 on 30 September.
Mr Willett enjoyed point-topointing success before turning his attention to showing.
He produced numerous show ponies and also owned Gravgaards Sir Dundee, who finished third in the novice silver National Dressage Championships last month with Melissa Richardson.
He leaves a daughter, showing rider Chloe Willett.
“His horsemanship and charm attracted many customers who enjoyed his enthusiasm and drive to win,” said a tribute from the British Show Pony Society.
“He was always ready to give kind word to an upset child or share a joke with those having a bad day.
“He had an great eye for a pony, could really pick out a winner and was brilliant in a crisis, jumping in to catch many a bolting or rearing pony.”
A TOP groom, instructor and dedicated volunteer, Ms Sykes died on 15 September aged 88.
Ms Sykes was “groom, right-hand person and friend” to showjumping legend Pat Smythe.
They attended three Olympic Games together as well as many other senior championships and national competitions.
Ms Sykes was responsible for the care and welfare of Pat’s star horses, including Prince Hal, Tosca and Flanagan. She was featured in Pat’s books.
On Pat’s retirement from showjumping, Ms Sykes opened Cringleford Riding School in Norfolk. The riding school closed in 1995 and became a livery yard, where a number of top horses and ponies were produced.
Ms Sykes was an active volunteer with the South Norfolk branch of the Pony Club and received the Cubitt Award for 25 years’ service in 1988.
She also served as chairman of the Beccles and Bungay Riding Club and was a stalwart of the Side Saddle Association.
“From all those whose lives you have touched and inspired, thank you Paula, we are proud and privileged,” said a tribute from her family. “While you will be missed, you will never be forgotten.”
Her funeral took place on Friday, 6 October at St Faith’s Crematorium, Norwich.
Paula Sykes worked for Pat Smythe, caring for all her top showjumpers
Joan Lewis was an ‘all-round equestrian’