Betty Paul celebrates her 80th birthday with a charity gallop

Betty Paul enjoying her 80th birthday ride

Betty Paul enjoying her 80th birthday ride - Credit: Archant

She’s still in the pink - and celebrating her 80th birthday in the saddle

Bettys special birthday table

Bettys special birthday table - Credit: Archant

A horse is for life, not just for one lesson, as veteran rider Betty Paul knows all too well. The veteran rider from Knowle Green near Longridge was first placed on horseback as toddler by her grandfather. She was hooked and has never stopped riding.

Betty celebrated her 80th birthday recently and rounded it off with a special birthday charity gallop on Formby Beach. It was organised by Lancashire Endurance GB and it coincided with the 30th anniversary of the group. Betty is their most senior member.

‘I have been horse riding since I was a little girl,’ said Betty, who as a young woman studied agriculture at university. ‘One of my earliest memories is my grandad putting me on a horse.’

Three riders on the beach

Three riders on the beach - Credit: Archant

Scots-born Betty, who moved to rural Lancashire in 1971 after living in Manchester with her husband, Robert, said that she had a fantastic day at the Formby Pink ride, a charity event which incorporated her birthday celebrations. ‘All of the girls from the Lancashire EGB made such an effort. It was wonderful ,’ she said.

Betty, who has three children and four grandchildren, no longer rides competitively but she still gets out on her three highland horses for pleasure. She is also one of the early members of the Lancashire EGB, so it was a special day for many reasons. The group didn’t expect such a turnout but 80 riders signed up two months beforehand. ‘Betty is a real character,’ said Dr Sue Taylor-Green, chairman of the Lancashire group. ‘She’s an amazing lady and very popular - an inspiration. She’s always positive and enthusiastic.’

‘The turnout for the ride was beyond our wildest expectations. Fortunately the landowners permitted us to increase the number of entries on this occasion so no-one was disappointed,’

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The club is part of a national organisation which stages competitive long-distance rides of up to 100 miles in a day. It’s like orienteering on horseback but these days, Betty sticks to the shorter rides.

Members at the Formby event arrived bright and early on the morning, many dressed up in fabulous pink attire, before setting off on rides of between 10 and 15 miles. The route saw them go along leafy tracks, through sand dunes and pine woods before making it down onto the beach.

After the ride, they tucked into a hog roast and pink rosettes were awarded to all who took part. Jamie Houghton was also crowned winner of the ‘pinkest person’ for his effort of dressing up.

Betty, who had completed the ten mile ride, took a seat at her special table, as no birthday is complete without cake and bubbly. ‘I had my own pink birthday table, which was just lovely,’ she said.

The event also raised money for various cancer charities and half the profits from images bought on official photographer Edwin Devey’s website will go to good causes. ‘I would like to thank everyone involved with the ride for their support in making this such a wonderful event,’ said Sue.

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