Windsor to be centre of European attention

Photographer and SJA member KIT HOUGHTON, the new chairman of the British Equestrian Writers’ Association, begins his term looking forward to a year which will include the European show jumping and dressage championships being staged at Windsor in the summer and more stringent media accreditation requirements for those working at the Badminton Three-day Event.

First, a belated Happy New Year. Let’s hope that despite all the gloom and doom of the economic world that the equestrian world continues to thrive – with both the jumping and dressage European Championships coming to Windsor this August, and the momentum gathering for 2012, there should be plenty to look forward to.

For my first chairman’s letter, may I pay tribute to my predecessor Alan Smith, who has looked after BEWA so well for many years and done so much for equestrian journalists’ working conditions. I am extremely fortunate that he has been “kicked upstairs” to become our president, and will still be there to offer sage advice. It may seem a little odd that a photographer has ended up as chairman of BEWA, but, as I have argued with Alan many times, usually late at night after a good dinner, a picture is worth a thousand words!

BEWA lunch
Many of you will know Dennis Cunnington as the organiser of the annual BEWA lunch, and will join me in wishing him well – he suffered a nasty fall over Christmas and broke his arm badly.

The lunch was moved last year because Dennis found it increasingly difficult and costly to negotiate with Olympia, so the decision was taken to move to the Queen’s Tennis Club and hold it in November. Despite initial worries that the move may deter members, it was, in fact, fully booked, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Many thanks to Dennis, who was instrumental in the move.

The date for this year’s BEWA lunch is November 19.

New committee
There have been some changes to the committee. Jenny Murphy, correspondent for The Independent and Observer, has stood down, after many sterling years as vice-chairman. She has been succeeded by Kate Green, Country Life’s managing editor.

Two new members have been co-opted: Peter Morris, a commentator and lecturer at the Royal College of Agriculture, and Carole Mortimer, who many will know from the press offices at Badminton, Gatcombe and Burghley. She will be assisting Dennis with running the lunch.

New members
We are hoping to attract more members as it is essential that media interest in equestrianism is maintained, especially younger journalists and those from the regional media who have a particular interest in the horse world. We will be approaching some of the younger journalists and photographers, and those from regional papers who have a special interest. If you know of anyone suitable and enthusiastic, please ask them to contact our long-suffering secretary, Gillian Newsum.

We are hoping in future to run a writing competition for students, and will be trialling it this year on Peter Morris’s Cirencester students. They will be asked to write two competition reports or news stories, as if for a newspaper plus a longer piece for a magazine. The prize will be a week’s work experience at Horse & Hound, by kind permission of acting editor Jaki Bell.

We have a page on the Sports Journalists’ Association website, which Alan has been managing, but we hope over the next couple of months to create our own website. The name is being registered as and all contributions and suggestions for content will be welcome.

Members’ directory
Currently, the directory is posted to all members, to press officers and equestrian organisations. We would like to make members’ emails only available electronically to companies, events, etc that request it, so that they can be kept up to date with news of events and launches. If any members object, please let Gillian know, but do remember that this information is already in the public domain through the member’s directory and only email addresses would be released.

2009 Badminton
Press accreditation is open for the 60th anniversary Badminton Horse Trials, and closes on April 17. Members should be aware that there will be stricter criteria for accreditation this year, in an effort to keep the always excellent facilities more strictly to working media.

Freelancers will be asked for proof of work and commission, and family members acting as photographic “assistants” will not be accredited.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing many of you on the circuit this spring, and please do contact me if you have any suggestions or issues you would like raising.

Kit Houghton

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