About BEMA

The British Equestrian Writers’ Association was conceived over a convivial dinner during the 1973 Rome horse show, when Brian Giles, Ron Wills and Alan Smith, all now deceased, felt it might be a good idea to bring those who covered equestrian sport into some sort of cohesive body. In those heady days just about every national newspaper had an equestrian correspondent, even the tabloids: Wills wrote for the Daily Mirror, Giles for the Daily Mail and Smith for the Daily Telegraph.

The idea was not greeted with universal approbation - “I don’t want to join a trade union”, being the main objection. But the plan was principally to try to improve working conditions, and within weeks such a need was shown when, at the Royal International Horse Show, then at the Wembley Arena, the press were asked to work in a dim, windowless room in the bowels of the building. The request for somewhere better was greeted by Colonel Mike Ansell, who ruled the show, and British jumping generally, saying that he would not discuss the matter with a mob, but would talk to representatives. So BEWA came into being.

Having established BEWA – now BEMA's - main aim, the committee decided to award a trophy to the year’s outstanding rider and present it at an annual lunch. Since then additional awards have been initiated.

Alan Smith was elected the first chairman, and except for a few years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the late Michael Williams took over, remained in that position until the end of 2008, when he retired from The Daily Telegraph. Kit Houghton was elected chairman, with Kate Green succeeding Genevieve Murphy as vice chair and Pippa Roome taking over from Gillian Newsum as secretary. Kate and Pippa remained in place but Kit - who, as Kate said had, in his four-year tenure 'brought BEWA into the 21st century' - passed on his mantle to Andrew Baldock, whose professionalism and experience as a sports writer with the Press Association was to BEWA's benefit.

Rupert Bell succeeded Andrew Baldock as Chairman in 2022, Lucy Elder kindly took on the mantle of Vice-Chair and Hilary Manners is now BEMA Secretary. The increase in the prevalence of mixed media prompted calls to alter the name of the association to reflect the number of photographers and videographers among the membership. By popular agreement, the name was changed to The British Equestrian Media Association, and this website registered to reflect this.