Published in the Horse and Hound Magazine 3rd June 2023
Ann Cutcliffe OBE, the honorary vice-president of the British Paralympic Association and influential figure in para dressage, died on 20 April, aged 80.
Mrs Cutcliffe joined the South Bucks Riding for the Disabled Association group in 1977, and soon became an instructor. She was an inspiration and joy to all the riders she taught.
She went on to hold central roles in the para equestrian world. From those riding for therapy through the RDA to athletes competing on the world stage, countless riders flourished under her support and leadership. In 2000 she was chef d’équipe for the gold medal-winning British team at the Sydney Games, and in 2004 was the chief selector for Athens, where the team again won gold.
Mrs Cutcliffe was a British Paralympic Association board member from 2001 until 2013, and was involved in charities including WheelPower and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. She was an RDA board member, a member of the International Paralympic Equestrian Committee, and served on the British Dressage (BD) committee for numerous years.
She was appointed OBE for services to para equestrian sport in the 2011 new year honours list and the next year was involved with the London 2012 International Inspiration programme, having been part of the committee during the bid process for the London Games.
Chris Porterfield, BD judge and FEI para judge and steward, said Mrs Cutcliffe was a “lady by nature and in her demeanour”.
“She was always gracious, and very good at persuading people and getting the very best out of them. It was Ann, with Inger Bryant and Jonquil Solt who really pushed the para movement forward, eventually leading to para dressage becoming an FEI discipline in 2006,” she said. “She was an inspiration to so many and we owe her a huge debt of gratitude.”
A BD spokesman said the board and staff offer sincerest condolences to Mrs Cutcliffe’s husband Peter and her family and friends: “She will be greatly missed and warmly remembered by so many within para dressage and para sport as a whole.”