YOUNG riders turned out in force to join in a surprise party for pony club stalwart Clare Bromfield when she retired after 28 years.

Members of the Avon Vale Hunt Pony Club has grown to be one of the biggest clubs in the UK with more than 450 members during her time in charge.

Committee member Kirsty Allen said: "Clare has been involved with the pony club for over 28 years, initially as a parent volunteer, then committee member, assistant District Commissioner and finally 19 years as District Commissioner.

"The growth of the club is due to her enthusiasm and dedication, and her boundless energy for welcoming new members, whatever their age, experience or background.

"Invariably she has been the first to arrive, and the last to leave at every rally, usually in darkness after calmly coaxing a pony that refuses to load into a trailer.

"She has taken teams to multiple National Championships whether show jumping, dressage or eventing, often coming home with success. In addition Clare’s house has often been home to planning meetings, stable management rallies and first aid training to name a few."

At the party she was awarded the Cubitt Award for more than 20 years voluntary service to the Pony Club. She now has three grandchildren who are members and plans to continue as a volunteer.