Mixing with Royalty at the Gatcombe Festival of Eventing
Rob has spent the last three days not only enjoying himself with friends at Gatcombe but also combining it with motivational speaking, raising awareness of the SpecialEffect charity and getting in some Tough Mudder training. On the Friday it was a quick trip to see the team at the SpecialEffect stand and then off to the Ladies luncheon which was held in aid of one of the Charities of which the Princess Royal is Patron – The Spinal Injuries Association (SIA). Rob was supported by several friends and family who were all proud to be there. There was an initial introduction from Capt Mark Phillips along with Peter and Zara Phillips before Rob was introduced to give his speech.
Rob inspired the audience not only by his story but by his courage and actual delivery. His closing words were “Today my life is dramatically different from what I ever imagined it would be before my accident. But it is also dramatically different from what I imagined it could be in the weeks following it. I am rebuilding my life, I am doing so with a huge amount of support from SpecialEffect and the SIA. There are a lot of people who don’t have the kind of support I have had and that makes the work of these charities even more important so if you can support them that would be wonderful”
The guests were then honoured by the arrival of the Princess Royal who spoke about the important and valuable work of these charities with particular emphasis on the need for mentors like Rob to be available all around the country to help people who are thrown into such devastating situations following injury or illness. The Princess Royal then also took the time to chat with Rob and his family before departing. We were served a delicious 4 course lunch whilst the pony club showjumping went on in the ring in front of the marque. Then it was back to the SpecialEffect stand to chat with those who wandered down the line of shops.
The day was rounded off by going on a course walk with the Olympic Event rider Alex Peternell – this also doubled up as Tough Mudder training with Rob tackling the undulating terrain that is the Gatcombe course hallmark.
Saturday was brilliant weather and Rob again spent several hours at the stand and then watching some of the cross country. Rob really appreciated the many school friends who came down for the day to encourage people in to the stand and try the eye gaze challenge- target shooting by eyegaze with a Top Gear type leader board. Great relief to Rob that as the “Stig” he did post the fastest time of the day.
Sunday was another busy day with Rob spending time at the Special Effect tent talking to people walking by. Zara Phillips spotted Rob across the field and asked if he wanted to meet a couple of old rugby players which of course Rob was more than delighted to do and has been proudly showing off the photographic evidence!
All in all a great three days which achieved its aim of raising awareness and funds for SpecialEffect. When back at home in the evenings though the reality of the catastrophic change to Rob’s life never goes away.
We owe a huge thank you to all involved with the organisation of Gatcombe Festival of Eventing with their unbelievable generosity in giving free of charge the stand space, blackout for the stand, signage, car passes and unquestioning helpfulness. It all stemmed from Ollie Cann having an idea a few months ago and the Princess Royal, Phillips family and event committee saying yes !!! THANK YOU