Rowan's Gift Equestrian Bursary 2019
In 2019, the Irish Pony Club was selected by Fiona Moeller, to receive the Rowan’s Gift Equestrian Bursary.
Fiona created this bursary, Rowan’s Gift in respect and tribute to her dear friends and neighbour’s granddaughter. Rowan, a young teenage woman, was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. Courageously she fought a very horrible battle with this disease she could not win. In life, this beautiful young woman was a typical teen. Full of energy and adventure, a love of animals and travel, wanting to be involved in everything. Giving and caring to all that knew her.
It was during this time that Fiona decided to act. Fiona is an English equestrian coach of over 35 years, working with young teens through to adult riders. Fiona felt that,
“when you witness the senseless tragic loss of a young life, you have to do something. For me, it was to help others succeed. Live their lives to the fullest and take every opportunity that comes their way. I realized I was in a position to help them do that. To motivate.”
Fiona knew that Rowan would have loved to do this too. The purpose of Rowan’s Gift is to provide funds to create opportunities for any young individual, to pursue their passions and dreams.
Team Ireland’s Olympic Rider, Joseph Murphy assisted Fiona in her search to find a suitable Irish organisation to receive the 2019 bursary. In the end, they decided that the Irish Pony Club would be awarded the Rowan’s Gift Equestrian Bursary for 2019. Joseph and Jill Murphy subsequently decided to add to the award for the successful winner of the Rowan’s Gift Bursary by offering tuition with Joseph to the value of €500.
After much consideration, the Irish Pony Club in collaboration with Fiona decided to ensure that this generous bursary be used to provide an opportunity for an Irish Pony Club member to learn, experience and participate in activities in the equestrian world that would not normally be available to them. The goal being for the member to have fun, meet new friends, enjoy and experience new things.
Irish Pony Club Executive Chairman, Barbara Micks expressed her thanks and gratitude to both Fiona, Joseph and Jill Murphy.
“It was with appreciation that we received the news earlier this year that the Irish Pony Club would receive the 2019 Rowan’s Gift Bursary. This bursary is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It has been a pleasure to partner with Fiona, Joseph and Jill on this project. Their generosity will allow the winner of this bursary to access equestrian experiences and resources unavailable to them previously.”
Nominations for this award were requested from the District Commissioners of all fifty-five Branches of the Irish Pony Club. In late August, it was revealed that Rebecca Geary from West Waterford Hunt Branch would receive the 2019 bursary and tuition with Joseph Murphy. Rebecca is sixteen years old and a very worthy winner. She joined West Waterford Hunt Branch in 2012 and recently passed her B Test.
Rebecca found out that she had won the bursary as she was leaving a GAA pitch following a Ladies Football match. She was surprised to spot her District Commissioner, Orla Nicholson waiting on the side-lines for her. Orla passed on the exciting news that Rebecca had been chosen to win this fantastic bursary. In her own words Rebecca was “absolutely over the moon. I am very grateful to Fiona and Rowan’s family for this wonderful opportunity”. Rebecca continued,
“Horses play a huge part in my life. I have been riding for as long as I can remember but I really got into it at the age of six when I started hunting with my local hunt, Killeagh Harriers. I have now been hunting for over a decade and whipping in alongside mu father, the Huntsman of Killeagh Harriers for four years.
I first joined the West Waterford Hunt Branch at the age of eight. It was one of the best decisions of my life so far. I have made so many lifelong friends and had amazing instructors. The pony club is also where I met my friend and mentor Marie Hennessy. She has helped me from the beginning and this year, she helped me pass the notorious B Test.
I am truly honoured to have won this Bursary and I am grateful to the Irish Pony Club, Fiona Moeller, Joseph and Jill Murphy.”
West Waterford Hunt Branch were delighted that their member, Rebecca Geary won the Rowan’s Gift Bursary this year. District Commissioner, Orla Nicholson commented,
“It was a huge honour and Rebecca was so thrilled when given the news. Rebecca has got her B Test this year and she has been bringing on her own horse applying all the skills that she has learned to date. This bursary will provide Rebecca with the opportunity to receive coaching to further improve her horsemanship skills. A huge thank you to Rowan’s Gift Bursary and the Irish Pony Club for this award.”
Rebecca is now looking forward to examining her options and deciding on the best way to use the bursary. She is also anticipating her tuition with Joseph Murphy and she intends to update us on her progress over the next few months.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the Branches who submitted nominations for this award. All of the nominees were deserving of this prize but we could only have one successful candidate. We would also like to acknowledge the contribution of Joseph and Jill Murphy to this project. They have been extremely helpful throughout the process and we are looking forward to hearing about Rebecca’s progress and tuition.
Finally, this project began in memory of Rowan, a young, vibrant and courageous Canadian girl who bravely battled and sadly lost her life to a very rare form of cancer. Fiona’s tribute to Rowan reminds us of the value of life and friends. This bursary will open new doors for Rebecca and allow her to further her equestrian development and knowledge. We are very grateful to Rowan’s family for sharing her story with us. It will resonate with many people throughout the pony club. In the aftermath of such a tragic loss, Fiona took a positive and proactive method of ensuring that Rowan will never be forgotten and that her memory will touch lives across the world. We are very thankful that Fiona chose the Irish Pony Club. It has been a pleasure to work with her and we look forward to continuing the relationship into the future.