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A celebration of the life of Delia Cunningham

last updated on June 13, 2017 20:07

A celebration of the life of Delia Cunningham

A service of thanksgiving to celebrate the life of Delia Cunningham (see BD news item dated 1 June) will take place on Friday 21 July.

Everyone is welcome to the service, which will take place at St Michael’s Church, Great Tew in Oxfordshire at 3pm. Her funeral will be a private affair.

Delia enjoyed an illustrious dressage career, culminating in representing Great Britain at the 1978 World Championships at Goodwood. She was passionate about helping other riders, particularly the young, and was active in the sport supporting riders right up until a few weeks ago.

Delia’s daughter Lavinia Winch says; “The key to her training was her passion for learning, her empathy with the horse, her intelligence which led to her analytical approach and wanting to learn from many different trainers and methods in order to arrive at her own way of working.

“It is clear that she inspired many young dressage riders though she was quite intimidating at times! She was also very supportive of young trainers arriving from abroad, often arranging clinics and gathering riders to attend. This included Erik Theilgaard, Hasse Hoffmann and Jean Paul Giacomini who himself had trained under Oliveira.

“Delia took her horses abroad for training to both Denmark and The Cadre Noir at Saumur which was practically unheard of in those days. She travelled alone and was quite fearless about it.”

Event and dressage riders Owen Cooper and Katie Richards count Delia as their greatest supporter and mentor; “She was a wonderful lady and will be greatly missed, she was such a huge part of our team. For the past five years Delia has been one of our biggest supporters and a huge inspiration to us.

“She has come to so many shows and lessons with us and came to watch the horses school at home weekly. Right until the end she was so active and still telling us off for our rubbish walk pirouettes! We first met Delia when we were based at Paradise Farm, Wiggington. She wrote us a letter inviting us to supper. We had just started doing dressage and she has followed us all the way through to watching us do our first Inter Is only last month.

“She has celebrated two national titles with us and has been Don Dante’s [Owen’s top dressage ride] biggest ever fan. Delia is irreplaceable. She was a massive character, hugely knowledgeable and experienced with a fantastic sense of humour.”