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Obituary: Pauline Ludlow – founder of New Forest Dog Owners Group and Riding for the Disabled

TRIBUTES have been paid following the death of Pauline Ludlow, the founder of a campaign group to protect the rights of local dog owners.

Described by her youngest son Tim as "tenacious, determined and strong", Pauline (88) helped launch both the New Forest Dog Owners Group (NFDOG) and the Riding for the Disabled charity.

Tim said: "She was a very strong lady who got things done, and she absolutely loved a cause. If it was for somebody or something she would go for it."

Pauline Ludlow
Pauline Ludlow

Current NFDOG chair Heather Gould, who assumed the role from Pauline, added: "She was a very kind person and very determined.

"If she decided to do something she meant it and she would do it. She never had a bad word to say about anybody and was a very interesting character."

Pauline set up NFDOG as a pressure group in 2001 in the wake of the Foot and Mouth outbreak which had prompted suggestions that rules be changed to force all dog owners to keep their animals on leads in the New Forest.

Her vocal opposition and skills at bringing people together saw the group’s numbers swell to 3,000. The campaign tackled government ministers and helped to force the idea to be dropped.

NFDOG also successfully persuaded the national park authority to drop controversial proposals in 2008 to ban dogs from some car parks in the Forest, after partnering with local equestrian groups to deliver a 7,000-signature petition.

As part of that fight, Pauline chaired a key meeting featured on the BBC’s countryside TV programme, Countryfile, and her efforts with NFDOG saw her honoured with the Lesley Scott Ordish award from Pro-Dogs.

When she stepped down from the chair's role she was made NFDOG’s honorary life president and she kept up to date with its activities right up until her death.

Her passion for animals shone through during her childhood when she learned to ride.

Tim said: "She and her best friend were in the countryside and said they would go and pick up their ponies, take some sandwiches and ride them all across the Forest. They were young and care-free and giggled and pleased themselves.

"They held some fantastic memories of her young life for her."

Her family owned and ran hotels, including the Heathlands Hotel in Bournemouth. Pauline attended Talbot Heath School and another in Arundel, Sussex, before going to on to learn hotelier skills in Geneva, Switzerland.

At the age of 19 Pauline became engaged to a racing driver but he died in a plane crash before they were married.

She later wed Antony Cherry, the pair going on to have three sons: Michael, Peter and Tim. She married for a second time later in her life, but it did not work out.

She was always involved with animals and indulged that love through Riding for the Disabled which she helped set up in the 1960s with acquaintances from the equestrian world.

Pauline was an accomplished rider herself, having competed at dressage, show jumping and cross country events. She was an examiner for the British Horse Society and rode with the New Forest Hounds and was a whip to the huntsman at the Hursley Hambledon Hunt.

The family bred horses and had an established Midnight lineage. Pauline’s “absolute favourite” horse was Midnight Monarch, Tim said.

"If it had four legs she loved it," he said. "She had Labrador dogs, she loved those and she loved the Forest and everything about it. She truly was a real character."

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