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Olympics

Showjumping is in this family’s DNA – meet Rosie Pyle

(this article was first published in the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald on October 17 2013, this content may be slightly longer due to the newspaper editing process)

TALENTED horsewomen Rosie and Sam Pyle have an exciting personal challenge ahead of them  – the mother and daughter are about to go head-to-head in their first national competition together.

Rosie, who’s 14 and a student at Malmesbury School, is a rising star in British Show jumping and is following in the footsteps of her mum Sam, 46, who has also had an impressive career in the sport.

Next month, they’ll be taking part in the Dodson & Horrell National Amateur and Veteran Championships 2013 at the Aintree International Equestrian Centre in Liverpool. They’ve both qualified for the 90 cm class.

“My aim is to be better than my mum,” the teenager joked when we met at the family home in Sherston.

In spite of the joking, there’s no doubt this young woman has a bright future ahead of her. In the last year, her competitive spirit has taken her to more national events than ever before and her sights are now set very high.

“I want to be able to jump at the Horse of the Year Show just as my mum did – I even want to try for the Olympics. I was inspired by London 2012. Just watching everything and feeling the atmosphere, it just looks like an amazing experience and the thought of jumping for my country – that would be really good.”

 

Rosie & Saint are riding high - and hoping for more!

Rosie & Saint are riding high – and hoping for more!

 

She’s also very clear about who inspires this ambition.

“My hero is my mum. I admire her because she had an amazing career with horses and, because her family didn’t have the money to buy the most expensive horses, they bred their own. She followed in her own mum’s footsteps and I want to follow in her’s.

“My granddad tells me stories about mum’s career, often around the travelling, the friendships and the adventures and it just sounds so much fun. Mum is still friends with many of the people she jumped with and I want that too.”

Most recently, Rosie was awarded the NAF Shining Star Award for her work as a member of the British Show jumping Wiltshire Junior Academy. She was nominated in September by coach Nicky Florence.

Nicky said: “Rosie is a pleasure to coach is always immaculately turned out at both shows and training. Her riding has gone from strength to strength as she is very understanding of her horse at all times and she always listens attentively to any advice she is given.”

At home, the Pyles’ family life revolves around horses. They have three of their own who all require daily care and exercising, as well as travelling nationwide to compete. Behind it all, Sam works as an estate officer at Charlton Park and dad James, runs his own independent estate agency James Pyle & Co.

Sam was brought up around horses – her dad Bob Rumble bred horses and her late mum was also an accomplished rider. Bob has already bred Rosie’s next horse, Hunny, who will be suitable to ride competitively in a few years.

Mum Sam said: “Horses are in my blood, I was brought up with horses and its second nature to me. I’ve not been a pushy mum but have always hoped that my girls would enjoy riding as much as I have.”

Sam describes her career in show jumping very modestly. She worked as a professional rider for ten years on the national circuit and competed in the Horse of the Year show. Given her background, it’s hardly surprising that her first child was on horseback from an astonishing early age.

“I would put Rosie in a saddle basket on the back of Didi and lead her when I was walking the dog. It was the easiest way and I did this from about six months old.”

Rosie first memory is, however, rather different.

“My earliest memory of riding is actually of falling off. I was riding my pony Thomas in a field with Dad leading and I fell off, I fell right next to a stone and remember crying because I’d been close to hitting the stone! I was probably about six.

“I also remember going to try my new pony Tommy and sitting on him and feeling really scared because he seemed so much bigger than Thomas. But I soon realized he was easier and I thought I could jump with him.”

Rosie’s life with horses is charted by the names of all who have played a role in her life so far – from Didi, to Thomas, to Tommy, to Gamble, to Ted and now Saint. Sister Katie, who’s 11, is now riding Ted as she begins her career on horseback.

Horses even play a role in her school life as Rosie is a member of the school equestrian team where she competes with her teammates Evie Dyer and Kirsty Poulton.

None of this though, comes cheap. Looking after three horses and travelling around the country is an expensive business. It’s a full-time family commitment to keep the sporting spirit strong within the home.

“I work at Charlton Park,” said Sam. “My job pays for the horses and to cover our costs as much as possible. James supports us all too, in fact we all support each other in any competitions we take part in.”

They did admit though dad James and granddad Bob often sneak off at the weekends to indulge their own secret pastime – boules!

 

At a time of pride over the Olympics – we’re celebrating too!!! Find out why?

Today I feel hugely proud of our company, Mellow Media Ltd, as I have just attended a meeting which brought to a close three months’ work on an amazing project.

We have played an important part in running, developing and implementing a marketing strategy to raise well over £4m in just six weeks.

Let’s just think about that for a moment – that’s £666,667 a week or £95,238 every day. 

Anyone connected with me on my social media network could have picked up my messages and tweets about Westmill Solar Cooperative or @westmillsolar.
It was the brainchild of Wiltshire farmer and entrepreneur Adam Twine to create a solar power station on his land but, instead of allowing a big company in to run the station, offer it up to people within the wider community. A less lucrative option for him – but in keeping with his green ethics.
Investors could bid for shares by putting in an investment of between £250 and £20k maximum. If successful, the cooperative will allow one investment, one vote. The aim was to make the cooperative accessible, open to as many people as possible and giving all an equal say, regardless of their investment or wealth.
Adam has created a similar project before, on the same site, Westmill Windfarm – that had taken years to come to fruition and had also raised a similar sum in community shares but  over a longer period, 12 weeks – and a different economic time -2007. Five years on, it has over 2,000 investors and is providing strong returns on that investment.
This time, while the integrity of the project was clear, it seemed a tall order to raise that much money. Together we came up with a marketing strategy which involved much PR, advertising, leafleting, e-mailing and other features. In our case, we looked after PR, advised on other parts of the strategy as and when required.
We’d worked on the project from mid-May working towards the opening of a share offer in mid-June which would stay open for around six weeks – a cut-off date of July 31. The aim was to raise more than £4m from would-be investors to create the UK’s only community-run solar power station.

In fact the world’s largest community run solar power station. 

 

Hundreds invested millions in UK's largest community run solar power station

This was a big ask. We are in a long-term economic depression with many businesses being happy just to survive. And many families suffering a stagnation or drop in income.
In our favour,  we had a small, but illustrious team of people hoping to raise that kind of money in a short space of time. And fantastic partners who would step in to help out and support us as much as possible. And the offer on the table was a strong one – returns way above anything a bank could offer at the moment, or for the foreseeable future.
But, of course, PR is never guaranteed. This felt like a test of the value of PR as it’s so difficult to quantify. It’s about brand, messaging, information sharing and story-telling all rolled into one. So we stuck to our basic principles of telling a story well, with accuracy and always a picture. And we always had something new to say – a new nugget, a new angle.
 When the share offer closed on July 31, it was over-subscribed by some margin. The message had clearly got out there. How did that happen?
As it was a project rather than a ‘slow burn PR strategy for the long-term’, I tracked some of the coverage we received.  I found almost 100 separate items both online and offline. More than 50 per cent were online, and often, but not exclusively, within the specialist ‘green’ or ‘renewable energy’ sector.
More than 30 per cent were articles and features in the local press – within a 40km radius covering Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Bristol.
There were around eight radio interviews or mentions in that period and two exposures on regional television. As for the national press, there were five items in total, on and offline.
None of this included the fact that traditional written articles which appear in a newspaper, magazine or paper publication also tend to appear online – so the online total was probably much higher.
As the ideal target was reached, our role has now ended. But has it? When involved in a project like this which had a very specific beginning, middle and end – something always remains.
For me it’s a deeper respect for those who work in the renewable energy sector, who do so, often in the face of much cynicism because they feel it’s the right thing to do. Even though they might have to justify their position often.
Friends have been made, connections forged which will continue in to the future. And it’s this legacy, at a personal level, which will mean the most.

Olympics, Paralympics? What benefits will come to Swindon?

Last week I saw the Olympic Torch come through Swindon and it was a proud moment – and it has made me reflect on our county’s involvement in the greatest show on earth.

We have many Olympic hopefuls based in Wiltshire – runners, swimmers, fencers, event riders, tennis players etc. Did you know that? And that doesn’t include others who’ve got more technical roles around the event, those who’ve volunteered and those who’ve been selected to carry the Torch.

First Olympic Torch bearer in Swindon

There are many individual stories around the Olympics and Paralympics which will come up every day in the local media over the coming weeks and months. But something’s missing…

Over the last few months, I’ve felt that Swindon has largely failed to become part of this great event – when it’s so close to London and easily within travelling distance of the Games. When Olympic teams are going to be based as far away as Bath, I have just felt that we aren’t getting any part of that action.

Have we been lazy when it comes to the Olympics?

I may be wrong in this assumption. I stand to be corrected. Maybe those who are responsible for economic development, tourism etc in the town have had a grand plan which is quietly, successfully working behind the scenes.

However, I don’t think so. Why is this?  We have had as much passion for this event as any other town up and down the country. Have we had a strategic, proactive business plan to attract tourists or visitors as this show rolls into our country? There seems to have been no will to harness this energy, this buzz, this opportunity.

Swindon is a great town. It’s got heritage, it’s got convenience, it’s part of one of the prettiest counties in the country, it’s got fantastic transport links – what’s not to like?

I suppose it’s too late now but I’d like to say to anyone out there who is travelling to the UK for this event – don’t dismiss Swindon, it might surprise you.

 

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