Dressage rider’s tears of joy after Funtington plans approved

Marcelle Ward. Picture: Simply Event Photos
Marcelle Ward. Picture: Simply Event Photos

There were tears of joy at Chichester District Council after a para-equestrian dressage rider was given permission to keep a mobile home on her land.

In 2014, Marcelle Ward and her husband David were given permission to keep the home on their land for three years, while she trained in the hope of competing in the 2016 Olympics.

Health issues meant that dream did not come to pass, but Mrs Ward’s dressage training and horse breeding business, at the site south of Osiers Clay Lane, in Funtington, performed well.

Mrs Ward, who has hip dysplasia and inflammatory arthritis, returned to the planning committee on Wednesday (September 19), to find out if her application to keep the mobile home would be approved.

Addressing the meeting, an emotional Mrs Ward said: “I came here four years ago and remember asking to be given the chance to prove I can do this – which I’ve done.

“I think I’ve demonstrated my ability to actually make this work and develop a business, which is growing.”

Mrs Ward told members she was now part of the British Equestrian Federation talent programme, which helps to support and develop athletes who show the potential to compete at the highest level.

She added: “I can now share that knowledge with my clients that I teach, that I coach, who come to me.

“So for every world-class lesson I have with my horse, I get to share that and share that knowledge and experience with local people that come to me who I coach.

“I think that’s unique to the area.”

Questions were asked about the potential for the business to grow larger, but members were assured that conditions had been added to the application restricting the use of the site to breeding and training only, not a riding school.

The application was approved unanimously, much to the delight of Mrs Ward, who shed a few tears.

Les Hixson (Con, Chichester East) said: “This is a really exciting development over many years and it’s going to be very good for the future.”