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Obituary: Audrey Williams – skilled rider and president of New Forest Carriage Driving for the Disabled

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A TALENTED equestrian and president of New Forest Carriage Driving for the Disabled, Audrey Williams, has died at the age of 97.

Audrey was a longstanding volunteer with the charity which enables disabled people to enjoy horse-drawn trips through the national park.

She was well known in Bransgore where she lived for more than 40 years prior to a move to Avon Reach Care Home in Mudeford.

Audrey Williams and her late husband Henry
Audrey Williams and her late husband Henry

Born in Sheffield in 1924, Audrey was the surviving one of three sisters.

When the Second World War broke out in 1939 she finished her school education and after attending a secretarial college joined a business in Sheffield making metal frames for umbrellas. This is where her business acumen came to the fore and sShe eventually became a company director.

She bought her first horse in her early 20s and after purchasing her first home with some adjoining land in Derbyshire’s Hope Valley, she went on to keep many horses over the years. Her other passion was for dogs and she kept many different breeds, finishing with her beloved dog Truffles.

Audrey was an accomplished equestrian, riding out in the Peak District of Derbyshire before moving with her late husband Henry to the New Forest, which allowed her in later life to take up carriage driving.

She was a member of the British Driving Society for many years, taking part in the Royal Windsor Horse Show. Carriage driving was a passion of the late Duke of Edinburgh and Audrey would often find herself in conversation with him on the sport they both loved.

In 1993 she was given the honour of being elected a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Loriners and admitted to the Freedom of the City of London. Always wanting to use her skills to help others, Audrey became involved with the Riding for the Disabled charity.

Through her local group, New Forest Carriage Driving for the Disabled, many experienced the joy of riding with Audrey in her carriage led by her faithful pony Merlin. Audrey eventually became the group’s president.

With her late husband Henry she also enjoyed a keen interest in wine and they were members of the International Wine and Food Society’s Wessex branch.

Her nephew Richard Keane said: “Audrey’s knowledge of horses and their care was such that many people came to her for advice.

“Her common sense and practical approach to life earned her huge respect. Beyond that Audrey was a wise and generous person, especially with her time.

“She leaves behind a legacy of love and warmth which her family and friends will greatly miss.”

He added: “She had a great empathy with nature. Walking with her dogs, riding or carriage-driving through the New Forest were all an important part of Audrey’s life which, through age, she missed towards the end of her years.”

Audrey’s funeral was at Bournemouth Crematorium on Monday. Donate to the Brooke Charity via audrey-mary-williams.muchloved.com

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