Moving memorial sculpture to the founder of Hickstead is unveiled

The Bunn family with the relief sculpture of their father Douglas, riding Beethoven, behind them. Photograph by John Periam.
The Bunn family with the relief sculpture of their father Douglas, riding Beethoven, behind them. Photograph by John Periam.

A SCULPTURE of the founder of Hickstead, the late Douglas Bunn, riding his beloved horse Beethoven, was unveiled at the All England showground during the recent Hickstead Derby meeting.

The memorial sculpture, in the form of a relief, was created by Philip Blacker, a friend of the Bunn family, who is famous for his life size sculptures of Red Rum and Desert Orchid.

Douglas Bunn (1928-2009) was the founder of the All England Jumping Course, and one of the biggest innovators in the sport of showjumping. Now a memorial sculpture featuring Douglas on his most famous horse is going to be unveiled during the Hickstead Derby meeting.

Philip said: “I felt that rather than have just a normal statue it would be better to have a relief panel of Douglas jumping a Hickstead wall on Beethoven, with the grandstand in the background. I thought it was important to portray him in action in his heyday.”

Beethoven remains to this day the only British horse to ever be crowned World Champion, when David Broome rode him to victory at La Baule in 1970. ‘Bootsie’, as he was known in the stable, was famous for his big white blaze, and for flicking his tail high in the air when he jumped.

“The All England Jumping Course was my father’s proudest achievement, so it’s fitting that this memorial statue should be sited right next to the International Arena so that all the visitors to the showground will see it as they arrive,” said Hickstead director Lizzie Bunn.

The six youngest Bunn children – Edward, Lizzie, John, Chloe, Daisy and Charlie – are all directors at Hickstead and all except Daisy, who was recovering from an operation, were at the unveiling ceremony.

Edward and Lizzie run the showground throughout the year, while the others combine their roles at Hickstead with other careers.