by Andrew Cowdery

Tom Pettifer - new BHDTA ChairmanThe British Horse Driving Trials Association has a new Chairman, Mr Tom Pettifer. Outgoing Chairman, Mr Jim French announced the new appointment made by the Council, at the Association's Annual Conference held at The Holiday Inn, Seaton Burn, Newcastle-upon-Tyne on Saturday 13th October. At the beginning of 2001, Jim had been co-opted back on to head the Council for a further year, but felt it would be easier for his successor if he handed over at a relatively quiet time of the year rather than at the AGM in May 2002.

The new BHDTA Chairman, Tom Pettifer, is a well-known competitor in the Horse Tandems class from Tiverton in Devon, whose interest in the sport began when he acted as steward at the Windsor Park Equestrian Club and at the International Driving Grand Prix at Royal Windsor Horse Show. Following his move to Devon, Tom became involved in running events for the Great Western Harness Club, served as Chairman and is now President of the Club. He also served on the original organising committee of the highly-successful Newnham Park national Horse Driving Trials.

Retirement from the construction industry allowed Tom and wife, Pippa, to spend more time competing with their black Dutch Warmbloods, Harald & Karamba. "My greatest buzz was winning our first national event in Horse Tandems at Brighton," recalls Tom, "And winning the Hopetoun driving trials was a thrill. We've thoroughly enjoyed competing at all the events."

"I am looking forward to the new challenge of taking over as BHDTA Chairman," commented Tom, who has decided to retire from competing to concentrate on his new role, "At present, everyone is worried about the possible damage done to the sport by the 2001 season lost due to the FMD crisis and there is concern for the future. Many counties are still at risk from FMD and we have to work with the landowners who need to protect their livelihood. But we do have contingency plans to run reduced events, if necessary, next year and we will be better prepared. It is imperative, even if FMD persists that we are able to run some events."

Retiring Chairman - Jim French"We are looking towards helping the sport grow in this country," the new Chairman asserts, "There is no doubt driving is more popular on the continent at present and we should endeavour to catch up. The sport must grow from the grassroots level and we have to encourage more people to get involved. But it is also important that we support drivers competing at international level - the two ends of the sport are equally important. I have derived great pleasure from all the various roles I have taken in Horse Driving Trials and I'm really looking forward to putting something back into the sport."

"I am very confident that Tom will be an excellent Chairman," commented Jim French. Vice-Chairman, George Bowman, made a presentation to the retiring Chairman, Jim French and thanked him for all his hard work on the Committee for the last 12 years and as its Chairman since 1999.