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The Horse Life Project

In Loving Memory of Jill Smith

A huge thank you to all the family and friends of Jill Smith for arranging an In Memoriam collection for the Horse Trust in accordance with Jill’s wishes that a collection be made for a horse charity at the celebration of her life.

In every sense of the word Jill was a truly remarkable lady.  Born just 4 days after the start of the Second World War, Jill lived all her life in Stanford-in-the-Vale where her racehorse owning father, Philip Wentworth, was the village butcher. At an early age she pestered her father for riding lessons before going on to own two Exmoor ponies “Poppet” and “Tarka”.  As a teenager Jill would gave lessons to anyone in the village wanting to learn to ride.  One nine year old pupil was the poet to be Pam Ayers who in her autobiography writes of Jill, “She was lovely: seventeen years old with dark curly hair and a bright “I’m-on-your-side” manner. A lesson was arranged for ten o’clock the next Sunday morning and it proved to be the first of many.  We fell into a lovely and, certainly for me, much looked forward to routine, of walking to the field to catch the ponies, leading them back, grooming them, putting on their saddles and riding off.  Their names were Tarka and Poppet.  They were Exmoor ponies, strawberry roans with mealy muzzles.  I loved them and I idolised Jill. ”

A year later, aged 18, a motorcycle accident left Jill paralysed from the chest down.  Upon her return from hospital, Jill’s parents employed George, the son of the local policeman to adapt their house – they got more than just a builder as Jill and George fell in love and married.  With great sadness Poppet and Tarka had to be sold but Jill and George went on to have three sons Tim, Glenn and Philip.  Although none of the boys were interested in horses, Jill was delighted when Philip’s daughter Amelia inherited her love of horses and began taking lessons.

Throughout her life Jill was one of those wonderful people who would not let her disability hinder her independence in any way;  she nursed George through illness, ran the home, learned to drive and in 1984 became a Christian lay reader and until recently regularly preached at St Denys Church in Stanford.

Perhaps the best illustration of the lifelong mark Jill made was that when asking Pam Ayers for permission to quote from autobiography she said “Jill meant the world to me”.  A life well led.

Thank you to Jill and all her family and friends.

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