London 2012 gold medallist Carl Hester and fellow equestrian star Jay Halim – both of whom are LGBT+ – are helping to raise money for NHS Charities Together…
By Jon Holmes
Carl Hester MBE and Jay Halim are among the star names in equestrianism and racing to join a major new fundraising initiative in support of the NHS during the coronavirus outbreak.
Hester has enjoyed a glittering career in dressage, capped by gold-medal team success at the London 2012 Olympics, while Halim is a regular competitor at international showjumping events and shared a championship title at the 2019 Horse of the Year Show.
‘Equestrian Relief’ is an urgent fundraising campaign to raise money and change lives, with donations going directly to support the efforts of the wonderful work being carried out by the NHS.
Other leading names involved in the campaign include eventing world champions Ros Canter and Zara Tindall, another Olympic gold medallist in Scott Brash, and racing legends AP McCoy and Frankie Dettori.
All this week (from Monday, April 6), seven teams will do battle in a series of daily challenges which will be filmed and shown each evening on a dedicated website and also on the Liverpool International Horse Show’s social media channels.
Hester is a member of #TeamDressage, while Halim is the captain of #TeamShowjumpingSouth. The challenges – On the Gallops, Plankety Plank, Horse Drawn, Showstopper, and Dark Horse – will test the riders skills’ physically, creatively and artistically.
A target of £100,000 to go towards the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal Fund has been set, with over £15,000 already raised at the time of writing. (Update – over £56,000! on Thurs 9 April)
Hester says the inspirational commitment of NHS staff during the pandemic puts the Tokyo 2020 ambitions of many athletes into perspective.
“I have been truly astounded by the courage and determination of our NHS staff and key workers across the nation,” says Hester. “What they are doing makes the postponement of the Olympics trivial and we will be indebted to them for years to come.
“Please support Equestrian Relief and all it is trying to achieve.”
Halim has additional cause to appreciate just how much dedication is going into the national healthcare effort.
“My partner is a doctor working on the front line on a Covid-19 ward at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxfordshire so I know first hand the hours and effort that NHS staff are putting in,” he says.
“I just hope that everyone supports the Equestrian Relief campaign and we raise the vital funds the NHS needs.”
Hester recently added his voice to calls for greater LGBT+ equality on the island of Sark where he grew up, ahead of a vote on same-sex marriage. The outcome was positive, with Sark becoming the last place in the British Isles to legalise marriage equality.
For more on Equestrian Relief, visit the campaign website and check out the official Facebook page of the Liverpool International Horse Show.