June Warren – (15/6/1923 – 29/10/2020)

Saturday 31 October 2020

June Warren – (15/6/1923 – 29/10/2020)

 

It is with a heavy heart that British Showjumping share the news of June Warren’s passing after a short illness and at the age of 97 years.

June’s involvement in the sport has been a prolific one and her legacy is impressive.  Marrying her late husband Peter at a young age, they set up home on his parent’s farm at Wing on the Beds/Bucks Borders.  The farm, having been requisitioned in the Second World War as an airfield, was criss-crossed with runways and buildings to accommodate the wartime activity.   After the war ended June’s father-in-law negotiated the purchase back of the farm and it was returned to it’s original purpose as a livestock and arable farm.

Much of the concrete runways went into the development of the M1 but there was also an element of them left which can still be seen today by those visiting the venue with them now being utilised for lorry parking and walking off horses after competition.  With a strong local hunt alignment and the stables being adjacent to the house the family could see the potential of the airfield land being put to good use in the creation of an equestrian centre and this was what drove the formation of Old Park Equestrian.

June was very much the driver for the development of the centre and it soon evolved to become the first to have a purpose built indoor school.  June’s foresight and vision for the sport saw her in 1964 run the first pre-Wembley Horse of the Year Show event across multiple days of competition. Talking to British Showjumping a few years ago June recollected on the event by saying “We had a café next to the indoor school with a tannoy piped through so everyone knew what was going on. We had huts left over from the war so we turned those into stabling accommodation. Too many people were running shows in the summer so we stuck to the winter months, painted all the poles and fences in the summer and stored them undercover.   The indoor school was full size by the time of the first pre-HOYS show in 1964 and it proved really popular.”

Employing highly respected course-designers of the day such as Alan Oliver, June attracted the country’s best riders of the time to her shows including the late former Olympic rider Peter Robeson who was an advocate of June’s endeavours in creating a venue that the best would want to compete at.  June also was insistent on making the shows as comfortable and fun for all involved as possible and installed heating under the seats and brought in entertainment to fill the gaps between classes such as the ‘showjumping bulls’ which proved highly popular.

June’s passion for elite sport was matched by that of her passion and drive for creating grassroots competition and production pathway classes for horses starting off in their careers. Innovative in her thinking and tireless in her dedication to the sport and seeing where she could drive change saw her create a series called the Wing Newcomers.  Conceived initially as a series of qualifiers within a 60 mile radius of Wing with a final at Old Park Equestrian it proved so popular that after 10 years she generously handed it over to British Showumping to roll out nationally with a final at Horse of the Year Show.  Renamed at that point as the Senior Newcomers Championships the series is still one of the most highly contested championships on the national circuit and June took immense pleasure in being able to watch the Championship Final contested first hand last year at Horse of the Year Show from the front row of the hospitality area.

June’s hopes for the sport and the importance she placed on the encouraging of double clears and rewarding those who deliver them consistently with qualifiers to a Final still stands today.  This format remains as the primary format for the majority of the championship series contested on the national circuit today.  

A visionary and driver for the sport of Showjumping, June was instrumental in shaping the sport into the one that we have today.  Her passion for the sport was both second-to-none and relentless and one that saw her continue to officiate at events well into her retirement after passing the reins of the equestrian venue over to her daughter Gail.  The family continue to run the farm with there now being four generations that have utilised the stables and equestrian facilities that June created.

Talking about her grandmother Gail, whose father is June’s youngest son David, said “We are all totally heartbroken that she has gone, but we as a family are so grateful that we had her for so many years. We have many memories to cherish and are so so proud of all her achievements. She was one hell of a lady, wife, mum and granny. They certainly don’t make them like that anymore!”

June Warren was awarded the Unsung Hero Award at the 2019 British Showjumping Awards Ball where she received a standing ovation in acknowledgement of her contribution to the sport. 

June leaves behind her four children Carol, Helen, Mary and David whose daughter Gail is one of ten grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren.

British Showjumping would like to extend their heartfelt sympathy to the entire family during this extremely difficult time and to acknowledge their thanks for the exceptional legacy that June leaves behind.

 

 

 

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