Rubbing shoulders

Meeting “celebrities” can be a funny experience – and not always the haha type of funny.  Sometimes, they’re no more interesting than the average person, but other meetings can provide the type of experience we dream of.  I’ve bumped into famous people from various backgrounds in all sorts of situations (fortunately never in too compromising a position, unlike an event manager friend!), and am relieved to report that I’ve never suffered rudeness.

Unlike my previous visit to Your Horse Live, I wasn’t seeking anyone out (back in 2012, I knew Mary King would be in attendance, and I wanted to get my copy of her book signed), but my friend and I managed to spot quite a few celebs.  Whilst we were browsing the trade stands, I’d already pointed out Your Horse’s Jay Halim, plus Pippa and William Funnell.  My friend chalked up her first win with an unexpected appearance by Mary King (and her lovely mum).  I was just browsing a stand when my friend made her next spot and pointed me in the direction of Lee Pearson, who was happily chatting away to the staff on a nearby stand, three London 2012 medals casually displayed in front of him.

Lee spotted us grinning at him and called us over.  I handed my phone to my friend, needing no further invitation to tell him how great I think he is.  I told him that my friends and I had seen him ride in London (I think the silver medal he had with him at the show is the one we saw him win) and how much we’d enjoyed it.  He seemed pleased to hear my stories, as I babbled about how it had been amazing value, and I’d attended with two non-horsey friends (one of whom is now his biggest fan) who both thoroughly enjoyed the day.  We talked about the fantastic atmosphere (interestingly, he said that the crowd waving frantically as instructed by organisers actually freaked the horses out more than applause, as they’re used to applause at that level, though he too appreciated the sentiment and atmosphere) and how a small child near me had asked when Lee entered the arena if he was “the one from Come Dine With Me”, and I praised Lee for achieving in that moment something which very few sportspeople manage – transcending his sport.

I always said that I’d never wear a medal unless I won it myself, but Lee all but put the ribbon around my neck.  He urged, “Go on, pick any.  I can wear them naked at home if I want to!  You might never get the chance again, it doesn’t bother me”.

So of course, I chose the gold one, knelt next to him and posed.  By this time, our conversation has drawn some other fans in and I had to be persuaded to leave.  Lee, thank you for your generosity, and all the best to you and the British Para-Dressage team for many years to come.

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