Grapevine Stories

A day in the life of...Jane Tuckwell, Event Director of Badminton Horse Trials

With the 5* horse trials fast approaching, Jane Tuckwell, ED of Badminton Horse Trials, gives us an insight into exactly what sorts of things she has to contend with in the lead up to this great event - variety is the spice of life it seems!

No two days at Badminton are the same, which is what makes the job so varied and interesting. The same applies to each event – not one has ever replicated another and there is always a twist to the tale, be it good or not so good!

I am incredibly lucky to have a horse stabled in the village and so for the majority of the year, my day starts with a ride on the Estate which is beneficial in several ways, as it gives me thinking time and the opportunity to see others and have a quick catch up on various matters that effect both the Estate and the Event. Many an idea has been thought of when I am out in the middle of the park on my own. If not riding the horse, I take my dog for a walk and again, it is amazing what one notices and thinks about when out and about. This morning it was a rather wet one!

Today has been a typical end of March scenario. I arrived in the office with one plan in my head and another took over! Keeping on top of emails is always a challenge, so I try to clear my inbox before I start on further tasks and probably don’t revisit again until the evening unless I see anything flag up that requires urgent attention.

Last weekend was one of the more interesting of the year, as the cross-country course designer, Eric Winter and the two Technical Delegates (Andrew Temkin and Stuart Buntine) were here to walk the course and make changes as required to the fences. Today, the TV television production team were with us, which always makes for a fascinating time. Eric Winter doesn’t only have to worry about designing a correct fence for the horses and riders, but he has to take into account all the other factors, like how the fence will look on TV and represent the sponsor, then there is the hazard that the TV shot needed will have too many catering vans and loos in the background! Having had lunch with the TV team at The Ship at Luckington, it’s back to the desk to catch up with messages and others in the office with what they have been doing or want input on while I have been out, which may include queries about the entries, trade stands, contractors, programme advertising, etc.

It is then another quick trip up to the Park to liaise with Harry Verney, the Site Manager. The grandstands, trade stands, various tentage are all being erected and the TV visit highlighted the fact that one of the grandstands out on the cross-country course could not be placed as in previous years, so I needed to discuss with Harry. Following the TDs and TV visits, the Willis Brothers were working away on a fence that needed some adjustment as I went past.

The core team in the office is very small, so it is easy to keep abreast of what each member of the team is currently doing. In any one day I can deal with a lot of different subjects be it discussing sponsors with Andrew Tucker, entries with Alex Harbottle, trade stands with Rosie Latter, cross-country and general officials with Elise Harvey or whether it is the right time for a social media post with Suzy Stevens.

Then there is the Box Office and again there will be people that will have queries about their tickets which Delyth Elmer and her daughter, Claire, are more than capable of answering but there is always the oddity which needs a glance at. I am so lucky to have such a capable and supportive team.

By the end of the afternoon, I’m thinking to myself, I think I’ve probably got more work on my desk than I had when I came in this morning! Home I go to do all the usual “home” chores, Philip will tell me what he’s been up to with the horses and then it’s a bite of supper, before I am back to the desk to re-visit the emails! I go to bed feeling it is all beginning to come together but the finger cannot be taken off the pulse until the prize giving is complete on the final day of the event….

How lucky I am to have a job that gives so much pleasure both to me and hopefully to those that attend, including our valuable sponsors, owners, competitors, grooms, contractors, trade stands, officials, volunteers and visitors.


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