Heather Clark
5 September 1961 - 2 June 2018

by Rachel Belliere-Wilson


British Carriagedriving
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How does anyone start to sum up this amazing person - a small physical pocket rocket who exploded into our lives with love, laughter, courage and carefree abandon ? Clarky, as she was known to many, was loved by all whose lives she touched.

She took up driving in her 30’s having been introduced to it via the RDA. She had spent her early years riding and had always built very special attachments and relationships with her equine partners, providing her with enormous freedom and independence from her physical challenges.

In 1995 she purchased her forever friend, Barney, a 5 year old coloured cob, with whom she competed for the rest of her career so successfully at club, national and international level.

Her attitude was ‘anything’s possible’. She believed and trusted completely in Barney - as he did her - and together they were selected for and competed for Great Britain in numerous Para World Championships including Hellendoorn, Hopetoun and Greven.

Her courage and attitude always kept her pushing herself to the maximum. Anyone watching would see her putting every last effort into every turn - in the absence of any arms, she used the maximum range of her body and shoulders, and if she ran out of room, she’d take a loop of rein with her teeth, never losing Barney’s rhythm of momentum.

And she’d always be prepared to try something new - with breaking news that a foreign competitor had been seen driving with crossed reins to avoid him having to take loops when turning, Heather gave it a go.. and it went brilliantly, right up to the point where she momentarily forgot her reins were crossed. Pulling the right rein, Barney obliged by turning left up, vertically up the bank, exiting the water in a rather unconventional and dramatic manner. “I think I might have pulled the wrong rein” Heather concluded.

But Heather was more than just a pioneering competitor, she was a personality. As popular abroad as she was at home, the Orange Army following her from obstacle to obstacle certainly rivalled the sea of Red, White and Blue flags flying for her.

She was always at the centre of a party and, as unbelievable as it sounds, even climbed the party marquee pole one night in Hellendoorn, aided by the Dutch supporters who had adopted her as their own.

Clarky loved to laugh, with others and even at the irony of her own situation. On arriving at an event after a Foot and Mouth outbreak, a dutiful steward stopped her lorry at the gate and asked all in the cab to get out and dip their feet in the disinfectant trough. Heather chucked her false legs out of the window and with a mischievous twinkle in here eye, asked the steward to kindly dip them himself.

Heather was a true inspiration and taught us all many lessons in how to live life to the full. Her quick wit was something to behold. She was a dear friend to many and - with little regard to her own challenges - would always be there for others through their own highs and lows, with encouragement, love and support. She touched many people’s lives and she will remain in our hearts always.
The Celebration of Life Service will be held for Heather on Monday 25 June at 11.30 at Pavillion of Harrogate, Railway Road, Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate HG2 8NZ.

All those who would like to be part of this are welcome to attend. An Act of Whips will receive Heather into the Pavillion.

Those who would like to be part of this are very welcome to join in this fitting farewell. In this case, please arrive in good time and attend with whip and suitable driving attire. The Celebration of Life service will take place at 11.30, and all are welcome.

The Committal will follow the Celebration and will be attending just by family and close friends, however everyone is invited to stay at The Pavillion for a buffet afterwards.