LUCY Thomson has broken new ground with her achievements at Lavant House Stables, near Chichester, by finishing runner up in two categories in the December prestigious Sussex Business Awards.
Her achievements were in two top business award categories- Small Business of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year.
Her love of horses prompted her to start the equestrian business , where her performance led to her reaching the finals.
. “I think they were surprised to see an equestrian business nominated in the first place,” Lucy explained. “Our business has ridden the waves of the recession through innovation, focus and customer service.
“We are very proud that the judges have recognised this and were open to considering businesses outside of the traditional corporate world.”
After a professional eventing career and having her two children, Lucy was head-hunted to transform the fortunes of a small riding school attached to Lavant House School when the existing proprietor left in 1998.
She had a background in corporate finance and Lavant House Stables, under her guidance, has seen a consistent annual growth of more than 20 per cent.
“It combined my skills and passions for both business and equestrianism. The number of riding schools in the area was declining yet the leisure and recreation industry was burgeoning – that seemed to suggest there was an opportunity in there somewhere to do something different,” she recalled.
Lucy took over the leasehold of Lavant House Stables and in 2008 the company bought the freehold of the premises plus extra land from the conglomerate landowners Cemex to secure their future.
The business has flourished ever since with more than 300 weekly riders and an events calendar that features more than 250 activities, camps, events and training clinics running throughout the year for riders of all ages and abilities..
It also operates one of the largest, most active Pony Club Centres in the UK and was recently instrumental in setting up the adult equivalent (Riding Clubs), which is good news for their adult riders whose numbers have increased from 17 per cent to 32 per cent.
“We have seen an upsurge in enquiries from people wanting to learn to ride or coming back to riding from childhood partly due to our GB Olympic successes” Lucy said.
The full team with Lucy at the back with her dog
To cope with increasing demand work has recently begun on an extensive equestrian complex on site to include a large indoor riding arena, stabling and classrooms.