Aylesbury Vale and the growth of the Paralympics part 3: What made Finmere Show so successful

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The third instalment of our look back at the huge local influence on the history of the Paralympic movement

This is the third of our articles showcasing the Finmere Show, which ran from 1959 to 2015. The Show was originally organised by the local community as a fund raiser following an accident to the young steeplechaser, Sally Haynes. Following the success of the first event, Sally asked for any subsequent money raised to go to the Paraplegic Sports Fund at Stoke Mandeville, in recognition of the great care she received there. The legacy and lasting impact to the Paralympic Movement is huge.

So, what made the Finmere Horse Show so successful? Local resident, Clare Smith (nee Tredwell) recalls the show as a big part of her childhood. ‘For me,’ said Clare. ‘The Finmere Show was all about the Second Hand Tent and the Jump Jockey's Show Jumping Competition!’

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Clare used to ‘dread the week running up to the Show, as I knew I would have to go up to the Showground so Mum could help sort through all the second-hand clothes […] for us youngsters it seemed very boring. However, when we got there, there were always other children to play with, whose Mum's were also helping in the Tent. Some of the children, I only saw once a year at the pre-show set up, but it felt just like yesterday when we all got back together. We would run around the showground, jumping on and off straw bales that were put around the Main Ring. If my friends weren't there, I had to help Mum sorting through clothes in the Tent, which wasn't too bad when I was in my early teens, but very boring as a youngster!’

Newspaper clipping of The Finmere Show 1960. Image © Sally Haynes/NPHTNewspaper clipping of The Finmere Show 1960. Image © Sally Haynes/NPHT
Newspaper clipping of The Finmere Show 1960. Image © Sally Haynes/NPHT

Clare continued, ‘On the day of the Show, all I wanted to watch was the Jump Jockey's Show Jumping Class. Every year, famous jockeys used to turn out for this class, by invitation only. I would be ready, sat on my straw bale early, in eager anticipation, waiting for the class to begin. Over the years, such names as John Francome, Peter Scudamore, Richard Dunwoody, Luke Harvey, and Tony McCoy were present at the event. I used to hang around the Horse Warm Up/Practice Area at the end of the Competition to see if I could get any autographs! My Uncle Jeff was always there to help me, by calling them over to sign "this little girl’s" book!’

Such amazing memories, and the National Paralympic Heritage Trust are committed to ensure that the local community’s positive impact on disabled sport is never forgotten. If you have any memories you’d like to share then please get in touch with the Trust’s Learning Officer, Fiona Darling-Glinski by email.

The National Paralympic Heritage Trust was established in 2015 to share British Paralympic heritage and are running the ‘Stories from Finmere’ project thanks to joint-funding through the ‘Stories from Buckinghamshire’ project supported by the HS2 Community Fund and the Thriving Communities Grant and the ‘New Stories, New Audiences’ project which is funded by the Association of Independent Museums (AiM).