AN equestrian coach from Dorset who started work in the community after a family tragedy has won a prestigious national award – and been shortlisted for another – for her work supporting young people.
Stephanie Buchanan, manager and chief coach at the RAC Saddle Club in Bovington, was presented with the BHS Changes Lives through Horses (CLtH) Coach Awards last week at a ceremony attended by BHS President, Martin Clunes OBE.
The BHS Annual Awards programme celebrates individuals and organisations who have gone the extra mile on behalf of the equine charity and the equestrian world.
Stephanie was recognised for her dedication to her participants’ personal growth and development after she integrated the CLtH scheme at Bovington to help local children who, for various reasons, need additional support, are disengaged or disadvantaged, or at risk of being excluded from education.
Stephanie became drawn to the BHS scheme following the sudden death of her 14-year-old nephew, Will.
“After he died in 2019. I helped my sister, Les, establish a charity, #WillDoes, a year later,” she said.
“The charity helps raise money to fund initiatives that help young people and we have raised an incredible amount of money. However, when I saw the BHS scheme I knew that I could do even more and help young people by introducing them to the ponies and horses we have on our yard.
“Horses have an incredible capacity to heal and inspire and many of the children we work with have never touched a horse before, but by spending time and communicating with them they become more open to the people around them and recognise that they can overcome hurdles which sometimes seem unsurmountable.”
Collecting her award, Stephanie said: “I’m honoured to receive the award but to be honest, it’s the horses and my volunteers Ella, Sacha, Melody, Maggie, Victoria, Paul and Ellie who have done most of the work,” she said.
Stephanie is also a finalist for the prestigious 25th annual Change of Life Award, supported by Sport England, with the winner due to be announced on December 6 during a ceremony at the Queens Hotel, Leeds.