Nina Barbour has big plans to continue the Bolesworth Estate legacy
Nina Barbour is continuing the hard work of her parents at Cheshire's Bolesworth Estate. Emma Mayoh reports PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS
Anthony Barbour had to encourage daughter Nina to help around the estate when she was a little girl, but now she needs no persuading. As a youngster she was happier exploring her family’s vast grounds at Bolesworth Estate, or playing in the turrets of the castle she calls home, than she was helping her dad plant daffodils.
But since her father died from cancer in 2007, Nina, who now heads the estate with mum Nina, has dedicated herself to continuing the incredible legacy created by Anthony.
‘My dad was amazing and had an incredible belief in people,’ Nina said. ‘He was very broad minded and loved art. He was always picking up new ideas and would always support people who came to him with new ones.
‘Continuing the work of my mum and dad is a big opportunity for me. It’s an inspirational place. My mum has done an amazing job over the past three years. What they both built up here is incredible and it’s a massive privilege to be a part of it.’
The emotion and pride Nina feels about losing her father and continuing his work is obvious but the memories of happy family times bring a broad smile back to her face.
‘This was an amazing place to grow up,’ Nina added. ‘There were plenty of places to go on adventures. I did a lot of exploring and the house was a great place to play hide and seek. We could get lost for hours.’
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Under Anthony’s stewardship the Bolesworth Estate went through a transformation. He moved there as a child when he was adopted by his step-father, Richard Barbour. When Richard died, Anthony took on responsibility for the renaissance of the castle and gardens, a task he shared with wife Diana after they married in 1976.
Seeing the challenges dairy farming was going to bring, he developed the estate into a place for small businesses to thrive and breathed new life into many redundant buildings and local rural communities.
His achievements were recognised when he was awarded the Bledisloe Gold Medal by the Royal Agricultural Society of England.
Nina said: ‘My father took Bolesworth through a complete transformation. My grandfather had taken out a lot of the old touches to the building but my father put a lot of them back again.
‘When my mum and dad first got married the house was totally renovated and redecorated. That was a big job. My dad also recognised there was a need to diversify as the challenges of dairy farming grew greater.
‘What he created was an estate that supports the community. It’s really important to us that we do this. We also want to make Bolesworth even more beautiful where we can. My dad was so selfless and wanted to pass on what he had been given in a better state. That’s how we see it as well.’
The Bolesworth Estate is now one of Britain’s most respected names in the development of thriving rural business communities. Nina, who moved from the castle to her own house on the estate in her early twenties, has now introduced her childhood passion for all things equestrian into her working life.
She organises the renowned Bolesworth Show Jumping Classic, which takes place from June 9th-12th, and attracts thousands of people. She is also in the process of establishing Harthill Stud, a new international horse breeding facility, with Badminton and Burghley winner Oliver Townend.
The multi-million pound new stud will house some of the world’s most exceptional stallions and Nina is dedicated to making it one of the country’s leading sport horse operations. The centre will also work in the same way many of her father’s ideas did in providing jobs for the local community as well as breathing new life back into a redundant farm.
Nina said: ‘They are all wonderful things to be involved with and are very relevant to other things we’re doing. The breeding project is very challenging but it’s a great business to be working on that incorporates my interests as well. It will be one of the biggest studs in Europe.
‘I have always loved horses. My dad got me my first pony when I was nine. It was so exciting. It’s funny I’ve done this because he never really understood why I loved horses so much. He was always really supportive but he used to joke with me that he had to watch me from behind his hands.
‘The year he died we were planning the first Bolesworth Classic so it’s nice to know he was aware something like that was going to happen.’
Although Nina still tries to avoid the daffodil planting, she is now set, along with her mother, to continue the estate’s development. It will be done with Anthony in mind and they will no doubt remember him in everything they do.
Nina said: ‘My dad was a massive influence on the estate but he was also a massive influence on me. He created the Bolesworth community. ‘He has only been gone three years and it’s hard without him. He’s my dad and I miss him and everything about Bolesworth reminds me of him.
He was a fantastic person and it is an honour to be following on from him.’
And Bolesworth is not the only place to head for equestrian events in Cheshire this summer.
Some of the world's top riders are once again expected to compete at the Chatsworth International Horse Trials this month. The event, which takes place from May 13th-15th, features great equestrian sport as well as fun entertainment at Chatsworth Park, home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.
The trials are established as one of the leading events in the equestrian calendar. Alongside dressage, show jumping and cross country there are even more arena attractions including world renowned horse whisperer Jean Francois Pignon.
Visitors can also enjoy Pony Club mounted games, ferret racing, sheepdog and birds of prey displays and see the stars of the future in the Burghley Dubarry Young Event Horse five-year-old class as well as the Inter-hunt Relay.
There will also be over 100 quality trade stands and two craft marquees selling a selection of country clothing, equestrian products, fashion accessories and delicious food.
And for more equestrian fun, The Charles Stanley British Masters will take place from July 1st-3rd. The event, hosted by South View Equestrian Centre in Wettenhall, attracts riders and show jumpers from across the globe. As well as offering in excess of �100,000 prize-money, the competition has been selected as a London 2012 Olympic Games qualification competition.