A WEST Sussex woman has been awarded the Pony Club Daks Unsung Hero Award because of her long-standing commitment to training Mounted Games Teams. Beryl Millman was born in Liverpool but came to West Sussex in her late teens and since that time has been involved in the Pony Club, Beryl is also known for her remarkable association with Aldaniti, winner of the 1981 Grand National, trained by Josh Gifford and ridden by Bob Champion. She was presented with the award recently at Royal Windsor.
When she first came to work in Sussex it was with Captain and Mrs Ryan Price, when Captain Price trained racehorses at Findon. Beryl also helped with the training of the Chiddingfold Branch Mounted Games team, which qualified for one of the first Prince Philip Cup Championships at Horse of the Year Show. She has been training Mounted Games teams ever since.
Beryl Millman receiving the prestigious DAKS Unsung Hero Award from Mr Paul Dimond, Deputy Chairman of DAKS at Royal Windsor Horse Show. Photo: Kit Houghton / The Pony Club
The Embiricos family at Barkfold, near Petworth, where they ran a National Hunt stud. She also helped with the childrens’ ponies and horses and, through this, became involved with the Lord Leconfield branch.
She has always been actively involved with the branch – mounted games, rallies, camps, and the highlight of the summer holidays was the rally that she and her late husband, Wilf, ran at Barkfold.
There, the morning was spent in lessons, then there was a talk during lunch followed by the much anticipated ride in the afternoon.
Beryl and Wilf made cross-country jumps around the estate and members went off in two rides – one for the younger members jumping smaller jumps and, what everyone aspired to – the ride with the big jumps. This included a huge hedge which, like fish, got bigger with every telling – health and safety was not an issue in those days.
Mr. and Mrs Nick Embiricos owned Aldaniti who, in 1981, won the Grand National ridden by Bob Champion and trained by Josh Gifford at Downs Stables, Findon.Everyone knows the story of how Bob was recovering from cancer and Aldaniti from a serious leg injury.
Beryl Millman pictured with Aldaniti in the old days at Barkfold
It was Beryl as Head Groom, who looked after the horse during his long box rest and convalescence, before returning to be trained for the National. It was such an outstanding story that a film was made called ‘Champions’ which Beryl worked hard with producers to auhtenticate.
The Bob Champion Cancer Trust was founded in 1983, and in 1987 Aldaniti was ridden for 250 miles, over 5 weeks, each mile being ridden by different people, including celebrities. It started at Buckingham Palace and finished at Aintree on Grand National Day, with Beryl escorting and in charge of Aldaniti throughout.
A huge sum of money was raised and Beryl continued to accompany the horse on many other fund-raising ventures including a sponsored walk in Ireland in 1993. In 1996 she also raised money for the Ride for Life, with awalk with Brave Highlander, another horse trained by Josh Gifford at Findon, going from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to Buckingham Palace.
Beryl continues to raise money for the Bob Champion Cancer Trust, making a small charge for the Mounted Games practice sessions. This is donated to the charity each year, with Beryl donating her expertise free of charge. She has helped to raise more than £920,000 since 1987 for the Trust and individually has raised £15,400 over the years from the Mounted Games. A grand total of £935,400 – which is amazing in itself.
The many events that Aldaniti attended over the years, as well as the Walks/Tours, would have been unthinkable without Beryl, she was always a great team member and everyone described her as ‘a joy to work with and she had heart of gold’.
Beryl is still actively involved in Pony Club instructing at camps and rallies. She has a wonderful rapport with children, young and older, and members of her Mounted Games teams.
She is always ready to help with any Pony Club event and much enjoys following the fortunes of the branch that is so close to her heart.