Chariots of Fire Coach wins ‘Backstepper of the Year 2018’ Award

One of the coaches from Lockerbie based charity ‘The Chariots of Fire Equestrian Centre‘  Stephie White has won the accolade of Backstepper of the Year 2018 in the inaugural national Carriage Driving Awards earlier this month.

Carriage driving grooms from all over the UK took part in the awards and three were shortlisted. Stephie was chosen on a glittering awards night as Backstepper of the Year 2018 – recognition of her skill, expertise and contribution to the sport of carriage driving. Very well-deserved!

Stephie came to Chariots of Fire in 2007. Amanda Saville spotted her potential when on a college work placement and asked her to work for her full time immediately on leaving college. The continual training she received from Amanda gave her knowledge and experience that she now uses to benefit ponies, colleagues and clients.  The expertise she developed as groom and back-stepper to Amanda inspires confidence in the drivers she supports now – both abled bodied and disabled.  Stephie undertakes the wide range of tasks required at this unique teaching yard that specialises driving activities for people with disabilities.  She coaches people of all ages in carriage driving encouraging disabled drivers to compete in competitions across the country.

Stephie selflessly decided not to compete herself in 2017 so that she could focus on being groom and backstepper for her colleague, Louise Kaihom. They made a tremendous partnership and had great competition success during the year. Louise says herself that she would never achieve so much without Stephie’s expertise, skills and consistent hard graft. “She is so supportive and encouraging, she helps me turn my ponies out to the highest standard and keeps me right when I need it!” Amongst the successes gained were Reserve Indoor Tandem National Champion, National Advanced Pony Pairs Champion and Driver of the Year for the Fenix Points League of Advanced Pony Pairs.

It is not possible to underestimate the significant impact that Stephie has had on one particularly disabled driver who had lost her confidence. Stephie’s expertise and experience in competition persuaded this driver to resume competitive driving with an enormous boost to her wellbeing and the great pleasure of her family.

Her commitment to the drivers she grooms for has never wavered, despite the devastating loss of Amanda in 2016. Her in depth knowledge of equestrianism and her positive, supportive attitude ensure the best experience for all drivers, both able bodied and disabled. She is organised, versatile and completely reliable. Her awareness and understanding ensure that problems are spotted and solved before they become real issues.  She is popular, fun to be with and a great team member. Her positive impact can be seen by the increasing demand for activities at the centre, most of which comes through word of mouth, through the results achieved by disabled drivers in competition and also in improvements to their day to day enjoyment of life.

Stephie often puts her own goals on hold in order to support others and recognition of her efforts for the people she is so loyal to would be a real boost to her confidence and self-esteem.