Bishop Burton College is currently playing host to 41 young riders from the Holderness Hunt Pony Club which in itself is not unusual. Until you learn that the Club have been holding their annual camp at the College for 20 years this year.
District Commissioner Pam Ireland has accompanied the club on each of their 20 visits and has enjoyed every minute. “Accommodation was becoming a key issue so we were looking for a venue that could provide us with proper sleeping quarters,” said Pam. “That’s when the College became available and we have never looked back.”
In the last few years the club has been able to host the youngest members and the seniors together at the same camp, something which makes a huge difference continued Pam. “It works really well,” she said. “We split them into six rides based on ability – so we have the five and six year olds who have just come off the lead rein, and the 16 and 17 years olds who are show jumping and eventing to a high standard.
“The basic format of the camp is pretty much the same as it’s always been, with six instructors; one for each ride who have a go at show jumping, dressage, cross country, games and stable management. They also have a go at the Pony Club tests.
“Of course it all has to be very well organised. The children are up at seven am to muck out and feed the ponies, then its breakfast and checking the itinerary to see what they’re doing that day.”
Pam is amazed by how much the College has grown in the two decades she’s been associated with it. She said: “I can’t believe how much it’s grown. I’ve watched it grow and to have this on our doorstep, well, we’re very lucky. The staff are always so friendly – we are made to feel incredibly welcome.”
So what is Pam’s most abiding memory of the camps at Bishop Burton? “I don’t think I have one particular memory,” she said. “But seeing a child achieve something they never thought possible – like going into the water on the cross country course or jumping when they always said they couldn’t is enormously satisfying. I always look forward to the next year’s camp. Pony Club is my life, it’s made me.”
Pam was given The Pony Club Cubitt Award for her long service to the organisation in 2009. She was presented the award by HRH The Princess Royal. The Holderness Hunt covers the area between Driffield, South Cave and the Vale of Holderness east of Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire.