In the equestrian world, extremely dedicated individuals seldom receive the recognition they deserve. However, the prestigious Sir Colin Spedding Awards aim to highlight their remarkable contributions. Today, we're putting the spotlight on the 2024 NEF Award winners, heroes of the equine industry - their tireless endeavors have significantly impacted the sphere and certainly deserve applause!

The National Equine Forum's Sir Colin Spedding Awards

The National Equine Forum (NEF) established the Sir Colin Spedding Awards in memory of the forum's founding chairman, who led the organization for 20 years until his passing in 2012. Sir Colin Spedding was instrumental in fostering open and congenial discussions on important topics within various equine spheres. Introduced in 2013, the award is presented annually to an unsung hero or heroine of the equestrian world, with winners coming from all equestrian fields in the UK, deserving special recognition.

The 2024 Joint Winners

The joint winners of the 2024 title were Kirsty Withnall and Amanda Stoddart-West. Kirsty has displayed unwavering determination in her role as an RSPCA case officer, successfully bringing to justice those causing unnecessary animal suffering. On the other hand, Amanda was acknowledged for her pioneering work, enhancing equine welfare through her role as livestock and entries co-ordinator at the Great Yorkshire Show (GYS).

Kirsty Withnall: A Guardian of Animal Rights

With an impressive 23-year-service in the RSPCA, Kirsty has led several investigations into serious, organized, or commercial animal cruelty. Her meticulous evidence collection has not only led to successful prosecutions but also considerably reduced future cruelty. After receiving the accolade, she humbly shared the credit with her RSPCA colleagues, veterinary teams, police, local authorities, and the National Equine Welfare Council while expressing her gratitude for the recognition.

Amanda Stoddart-West: A Pioneer for Equine Wellbeing

A trailblazer in her field, Amanda has been instrumental in promoting appropriate rider:horse weight ratios, amongst other welfare initiatives at GYS. Some of these measures, such as changes to warm-up rules and the introduction of welfare stewards, have been adopted by other shows. “There are great efforts going into ensuring the highest standards of animal welfare nationally, and this award is a reflection of all of who are doing such excellent work in this area,” she graciously stated on receiving the award.

Highly Commended: Anne Dicker

Anne Dicker of Catherston Stud received the highly commended award for her valuable contribution in uniting the equine sector. Her efforts have primarily focused on advancing equine groom apprenticeships, training fire responders, developing digital equine ID policy and research to support The Happy Equine Athlete, a rider training programme.

The profound commitment of these individuals towards improving the equine world is truly inspiring. Their noteworthy achievements stand testament to the potential of persistent efforts and the domino effect of change, particularly when it comes to animal welfare. For a complete list of winners over the years, visit

Were you moved to know about these heroes of the equine world? Do you know others who’re making a difference behind the scenes? Recognize them, celebrate them, and continue the conversation in the comments below!

Credit Source: Article referenced from Horse & Rider UK article titled "The 2024 NEF Award winners have been announced"