Monday, 31 October 2016

Final long ride for a queen of the road

Jakki with Princesse and Printemps in 2012
My dear friend Jakki Cunningham died of cancer this month. She was President and founder of the SLL Sete-Lorient-London charity which I have helped and supported since they came riding across France and into my life, when the 4 horses and 3 riders including Jakki stayed overnight in June 2005. We remained friends ever since.

The SLL Charity (see website was set up by Jakki with the idea of buying horses in the  Camargue and using them to change the lives of young disadvantaged people as well as to help people with disabilities. In the 2008 and 2012 projects, known as Caravan of Hope, the horses were ridden and cared for by disadvantaged youngsters both French and English, who rode an amazing 1,800 kms on horseback from the Camargue in the South of France, via Brittany, then on to London. The expedition took 6 months, camping all the way. At the end of the journey, the horses were donated to centres for disabled riding or carriage driving in England and France. Contact with horses improves the physical and emotional well-being of people with disabilities, as practised by the Riding for the Disabled Association and similar groups in France.

Jakki created 4 similar projects, each one became more ambitious than the previous one, with more horses and more diverse aims. She rode or drove carriage horses on each of the projects, earning the distinction of membership of the elite Long Riders Guild, as well as handling most of the administration and correspondence. Latterly she was joined by and had the help of Fred Kermel, her right hand man and French vice president, however, the charity survived and operated through Jakki's energy and enthusiasm, with the help of a small group of loyal volunteers and trustees, and some generous sponsors and supporters.

Jakki died on 22 October 2016; she was living in the Camargue, which she had made her home since 2013.

RIP Jakki Cunningham
Sunset over l'Etang de Vaccarres
Saying goodbye...

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