“Without the help of this charity I really do not know what we would have done” said Nicola Wilson as £194,000 is raised at the BEST Winter Ball.

The inaugural British Eventing Support Trust (BEST) charity Winter Ball saw 320 guests from the eventing community attend The Savoy in London. The charity, which launched in Autumn 2021 with a mission to support the physical and mental health of British Eventing members in addition to supporting research involving safety within the sport, has already proved to be a lifeline to a number of members during their time of need.

Nicola Wilson took to the stage to pay thanks for the role BEST have played in her rehabilitation since her crashing fall at Badminton earlier this year.

“Without the help of this charity I really do not know what we would have done,” she said. “When I had the fall I was instantly paralysed from my neck own which stopped me breathing. I was aware when I was lying on the floor that there was somebody next to me, but obviously I ran out of oxygen quite quickly and that was it, lights out for me.

“It’s really fantastic to be able to stand here this evening and to walk. I’m getting emotional because I know how lucky I am to actually be walking when a lot of people in hospital weren’t, and didn’t show signs of walking. Yes, life is difficult for Alastair [Nicola’s husband] and me, and I’m living it in a body which is very weird, but I’m living,and I’m fighting and I’m going to get somewhere, and I’m thrilled to be able to walk.

“I feel incredibly lucky, there are many people worse off than me and this charity going forward, with other athletes in mind who are struggling with mental illness or physical injuries is amazing. Thank you for all your hard work.”


BEST Trustee Lexi Hambro who organised the ball, with support from a committee, paid tribute to everyone’s generosity that saw £194,000 raised for the charity.

“I had said if we raise £10,000 it’s going to go a long way,” she said. “But when everyone started bidding and the auction lots kept going up and up it was incredible. When I did the figures the next day I had to get my husband to double check them in case I had got something wrong as I couldn’t believe the amount raised. I was totally gobsmacked!”

Lexi thanked sponsors LW Theatres, Lavender Green Flowers, Hambro Sport Horses, Bates Saddles and Cause & Effect; her fellow trustees and committee members Nicole Brown, Claire Dubowski, Maria Haig, Virginia, Duchess of Roxburghe, Alison Swinburn, Rachel Upton, Bella Webber and Malcom Wharton. She also shared her gratitude for the donors of the silent auction prizes, Dickie Waygood for his support of the charity and Julian Portch Photography, as well as those who bid on the silent auction and the guests who attended on the evening.

Dickie Waygood, World Class Performance Manager for Eventing, said the charity is a “fantastic initiative”.

“We have to accept that eventing is a high-risk sport and a charity like BEST will look after our athletes in different ways,” he said. “It might be with physical injuries or recovery or mental health, so it’s only a good thing and I think everyone should really get behind it”.

For further information on the British Eventing Support Trust visit www.besupporttrust.org.uk

Lead image by Julian Portch Photography

Check out our Christmas subscription offer – the perfect gift for a horse lover!

Find out what’s inside the latest issue of Your Horse

Get the latest issue