In 1978 Geoff and Dorothy Hix , farmers living in Castle Bytham started the Bythams Hunter Trials to help raise money for Castle Bytham, Little Bytham and Careby Churches. The course was laid out by Geoff on his own farm and on land lent by local farmers John Sharpe and Alan Crawford. The jumps were maintained regularly by Geoff himself helped by local farmers Jack Greaves, Malcolm Wood and Bob Creasey. Bill Thompson, who used to design the course at Burghley, gave his expert advice on course layout to the team. Janet Wood acted as Treasurer and raised sponsorship funds for the event. Under Dorothy’s excellent management this event became a great source of funds for the local churches as well as a wonderful day out bringing all the villages together in a co-operative effort. Over 500 entries could be expected with horses being entered from North Lincolnshire, Derbyshire and Cambridgeshire. This was a major villages event, Dorothy’s family Mary, Sue and Robin played a major part in the management, Trevor and Sheila Robinson ran the bar and the WI organised the refreshments. Although the event was organised brilliantly, a happy relaxed atmosphere prevailed perhaps never to be experienced again in these more difficult and litigious times. Dorothy continued organising this event until 1991. During her term of office nearly £30,000 was raised for the three Bythams Churches.
Dorothy passed the mantle to David Lowes in 1992 who organised a similar event in Grimsthorpe Park. By this time the parish of Creeton had joined our group of churches so the funds were split four ways. The event continued organised by a variety of chairmen until it had to be cancelled during the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001. On the way one of the chairmen had requested that the funds be split five ways to include an outside charity. Each parish took turns to choose this charity. By this time the event was being organised by Calvan and Rosemary Player. The Hunter Trials Committee faced a mammoth task as with the years lay off an enormous amount of maintenance work was required on the course. The burden of legislation was also becoming onerous. For instance it was now essential to do a safety assessment on each jump and various other legal requirements made it impossible to run the event in the same way. Calvan and Rosemary Player came up with the idea of running a Sponsored Ride. They had taken part in such events themselves and enjoyed riding their horses through beautiful countryside in peaceful surroundings. Grimsthorpe Park would be ideal for such an event and after much debate the committee decided to approach Grimsthorpe to seek their approval. We were very fortunate in gaining approval for our idea and the co-operation of Tim Clark to help lay out the 8, 12 and 15 mile courses. This event has been running since 2003 with increasing numbers of riders taking part. Over the years the event has raised over £60,000.
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