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Susan Townsend-Parker laid to rest

Susan Townsend-Parker: Pony Team Horse Driving Trials
Susan Townsend-Parker: Pony Team Horse Driving Trials

The funeral of one the country’s leading lights in the world of carriage driving took place in St Andrew’s Church in Wingfield, recently.

Susan Townsend-Parker, who was 74, was the life-long partner of the British Driving Society (BDS) vice-president John Parker and one half of the same partnership which established the world famous carriage driving yard Swingletree Stables, based in the village.

One of the first 100 members of the BDS, Mrs Townsend-Parker was a successful carriage driver in her own right, becoming a two-time National Pony Pairs Champion in the 1980s.

In 1964, she was the first winner of the famous Langdon Dowsett Trophy, presented to champion young drivers and which is still presented each year at the BDS annual show.

She was also a skilled harness maker, a BDS all tests examiner and light harness horse instructor.

“Throughout her life, Susan was dedicated to her horses, a determined character with the highest level of professionalism in all she did,” said Angela Sixsmith, chairman of the British Driving Society.

“It was her support that enabled her husband John to achieve all he did.

“Nevertheless, she was keen to share her knowledge of carriage driving with all those who came to Swingletree, and she and John got as much pleasure from seeing those who progressed on to successful careers as they did from their own success.”

Brought up in London, Mrs Townsend-Parker started driving with her Welsh horse, Lass.

After Lass retired in Norfolk, she continued to compete in private driving classes with both horses and ponies, achieving success at every level.

Mrs Townsend-Parker funeral took place on April 21. She is survived by her husband, John, and sister Meredith.

Any donations in her memory will go to www.sanderswatneytrust.org.

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