The wobbly story so far....
Hannah Francis won an army of social media followers and supporters for Hannah's Willberry Wonder Pony charity, each of us touched and inspired by her incredible courage and perseverance.
On hearing that Hannah had passed away, Sally Barr wanted to raise money in tribute to this amazing young woman. "I felt like all my excuses for not doing things were feeble. I still had opportunities that Hannah didn't, and I felt a duty to make the most of them. I wanted to raise money for Hannah's charity as it seemed the only thing I could do, both as a mark of respect for Hannah, but also to support the amazing goals of the charity. I have always loved eventing as a spectator, and have been involved as an owner through a syndicate, but as a "rider" I had not jumped since I was a child (and then nothing like BE), and never imagined voluntarily leaving the ground again. The idea of challenging myself to complete a BE80 formed - Hannah had proved so much was possible with the right attitude and her strength. I initially shared the idea on Facebook merely to prevent myself from wimping out, but the idea spread and interest grew."
Georgie Horrell contacted Sally, with the name suggestion of the Wobbleberry Challenge, and wanting to join in. The charity was contacted about the idea, asking if it was OK by them, and OK to use the Wobbleberry name. At this stage, the e-mail said, there are four of us that want to do this now.....we may even get a few more.
A Facebook page was set up, and shared amongst friends and local groups, to see if there was anyone else that wanted to join in.
Sally's husband was roped in, and he quickly drew a rough cartoon for the Facebook page, depicting Sally and her horse, Hamish, to try and sum up what the challenge was about.
Georgie and Sally met for the first time for lunch at a local pub, along with Georgie's friend Julia Godbold who had offered to help, and wanted to sign up. This was the most fortuitous meeting! Julia has given up incredible amounts of her time to keep the challenge running.
Sam Elms was the last of the four founder Wobbleberries, getting in touch to offer her help with the PR side of the challenge.
At this stage we anticipated a small group of local people, aiming at Little Downham in autumn 2017. From here on, however, it became a runaway train! People from all over the country, and even overseas, wanted to get involved.
We quickly put together a website (new skills for us all!) - and a registration process.
Sam came up with the idea of a joining fee, in return for a starter pack - this in itself raised over £20,000.
Funding became a problem - to this point we'd paid for all costs ourselves, but funding the starter packs was beyond our reach. We were incredibly lucky to get support from some very generous companies, primarily the wonderful Paula Evans at Cakes by Moi, Carrie Turner from Divine Equestrian, and donations also from MSD Ltd and McKibbin Associates Ltd to help us make this happen. Find out more about our sponsors here...
At the close of registrations, with over 1200 people, it had taken on a completely unexpected scale.
Willing Wobbleberries that had volunteered their time to help organise locally were contacted, and a group of regional reps set up. Did anyone really know what they were letting themselves in for? Over time, the reps have proven to be real stars, who have pulled together their groups and created a great local community of support - along with fund raising and organising training events.Find more about the reps here... (page coming soon)
Local Facebook groups were set up, along with "special interest" Facebook groups.
The story was picked up by Horse and Hound, which helped share the story further. See articles published on the challenge here...
Trainers and venues got behind the challenge, with people helping out in so many ways, which all helped boost the fund raising.
BE got on board and supported the Wobbleberries further, offering a free training pass, as well as help and contact with the regional teams, to ensure people on the challenge had access to the correct information and appropriate training.
Fund raising was the primary goal - donations of raffle prizes from Celeris, Racesafe and Nick Turner early on all helped to raise funds. Wobbleberries have also had some very creative ideas to help their own fund raising - from Halloween cakes, tumblers clubs, to much larger scale events.
The biggest fund raiser to date was thanks to the amazing generosity of Andrew Hoy. Andrew contacted us via Twitter, and offered a day of his time for a days training and lunch with him at his yard. This was a huge success and, through a combination of raffle, auction, and individual fund raising targets, raised in excess of £10,000. More information about some of these events can be found here...
At the end of the BE season 2017, we are now in the fantastic position that many Wobbleberries have already completed their challenge, and have been greatly supported by the BE venues. See details of the completions here..., and under event reports.
The fund raising is still going on, and at the time of writing, we are close to £250,000.
So - what's next? With so many people that want to join the wobbleberries, and people deferring their challenge, we have decided to keep running the challenge. Please see latest press release here for more info.
Hannah's bravery will inspire people for years to come, so we think we may keep on wobbling a bit longer!
Already, she has inspired so many people to do things they had never considered possible - there is a gallery here of things that have all happened because of her example.
We want to keep fund raising, and will never forget how one young girl's incredible bravery inspired so many.