The Camelot awards were not born of a sudden invention. The idea came, as many do, quietly like a cat who pads across the room to sit on your lap. “Wouldn’t it be amazing to have our own regional awards instead of just national awards” we said one day as we chatted over the phone. We did a lot of chatting in those days myself, Caroline Broadley, Susanne McCarthy and Linda Moore. We were part of the regional committee and while I expected the committee to be hard work I was pleasantly surprised at how it formed friendships. We did a lot of chatting because Linda, who I didn’t know long, was sick. I first met Linda at a regional meeting that year and her infectious enthusiasm and her friendly approach meant that within a week you felt like you had known her forever. So the awards night, sparked by a throwaway comment one evening grew arms and legs and turned into the Camelot awards you know today.
We started the awards because we wanted to celebrate our own regional members, horses, riders and achievements. We called it the Camelots as a humorous nod to the Lancelots, the AIRCs national awards. Everyone horsey has fancy clothes at home with not enough occasions to wear them we thought so why not make it glam, a ball, a black tie type affair so that we can all see what we look like without a coating of rain and dirt and horse hair. This too grew legs. We thought “why not have a red carpet”, “let’s make the awards Oscar statues”, “let’s get a huge room in a hotel” and so we did.
We needed to grab the attention of club members and secretaries so Caroline managed to create an old style document in language of the time. Suzanne used a seal and wax to put the official finish on to the posted invitations. No matter how ill Linda was, when she talked about the awards she lit up and so it became hers – her project and her goal. We didn’t know then that Linda wouldn’t be there. On the 2nd December, she left us and nothing was quite the same. We didn’t know what to do but it was Linda’s husband John who supported us in putting on the first ever Camelot awards the at the Killashee house hotel in January. The awards were everything she would have wanted from the glamour to the red carpet to the Oscar statues. We had a special presentation about Linda in honour of her and John announced the Linda Moore award which would be awarded each year to someone deemed eligible and the Linda Moore show-jumping league which would run in the Spring and Autumn in the region in memory of Linda’s participating in it on board her bay gelding Sam.
The Camelot awards continued in the region each year. In 2017 Moyglare riding club, the club Linda belonged to, took the reins with the aim of making the night bigger and better than ever. Zohra Smyth and Niamh Daly O’Rourke last Saturday hosted the biggest celebration the region had ever seen at the Westgrove hotel where approximately 200 people filled the room to celebrate West Leinster. From the spot prize, to the candy cart to the raffle in aid of charity to the band and DJ everything had the simple aim of providing a great night out. As Trish Buckley was awarded the Linda Moore trophy for 2017 I think a little bit of Linda really was with us there in the room – she would have loved it. In that moment I thought this, this is her legacy, the result of hours of planning years ago, hours sat around Caroline’s table cropping photos for a slide show and trying not to burn ourselves with wax, the result of a group of friends many years ago just wanting to do something new to celebrate the region and its members.
I met Zohra at the bar at about past midnight on Saturday night where I was dishevelled from dancing and in need of the inevitable “just one more drink”. Her only concern was if I was having a good time, if everyone was happy, if they had done a good job. I think I told her that when you have a jam packed dancefloor and 200 people in a room dancing, singing and smiling – you have done a pretty amazing job! So well done Niamh and Zohra and the regional committee for the huge effort that must have gone in to making that brilliant night a reality and celebrating the friendships and achievements that amateur horse riding is really all about. Carry on Camelots – for many more years I hope.