Happy Retirement Vince!

Written by John Coupland

This is the last season that Vince will officiate as Collecting Ring Steward having informed us that he wishes to retire at the end of this Show Jump season, his last show of the summer series will be the End of Season Show Jumping Show on Sunday the 8th September bringing to an end an illustrious career. The main reasons behind the decision are health related, the knees, the heart, the back, fallen arches, hearing and eyesight have all had their part to play but like every true professional Vince knows when to quit the stage, leaving his public wanting more! Vince has stood as Collecting Ring Steward for twelve and a half years making the roll his own. Its fair to say that he has set the standard that all others are measured against and is regularly credited with being the best in the region if not further. The innate professionalism he has displayed over his tenure will guarantee that those that have been close to him will never forget him.

His supportive approach has helped many a novice rider gain composure before entering the competition arena and supplied wise words of support as they leave it whether on horseback or on foot pursuing their horse or being pursued by it. A lifetime involved in sport as a player, a teacher and a coach has given him the perspective, wisdom and the knowledge to provide that support and I’m sure that the help given has made a huge difference to many riders. I wouldn’t want to create a picture of a sage sitting in a calm slightly distant state, the demands of the collecting ring are unremitting and at times brutal and Vince has had to stamp his authority at times on some very unruly people, these people have included those at the top of our sport who consider themselves above the discipline and order that guides the actions of lesser mortals but in typical Vince style he has used his authority wisely and generally exerted his influence on the situation. There has also been the occasional incident involving a horse but mercifully they have been few. A stoic phlegmatic approach has always typified his style and whatever the riders or their horses have thrown at him he has generally remained unflappable. The challenges of the competitors have been matched by those of a meteorological nature, whether the torrential rain of the Pony Club Champs of 2017, the baking merciless sun of the rest of 2017 or the horizontal sleet of the Arena Eventing season the appropriate clothing has always come out of the bag, along with various hats coats scarves gloves for his pole picking team. Vince has trained a succession of Pole Pickers, from raw recruits to a professional crack team with lessons in life alongside those of the competition arena. Their occasional gaffs and inappropriate comments met with the world-weary sigh and the single raised eyebrow, but they all hold him in the highest regard. Likewise, his approach to the various Judges he has had to work with, with their differing levels of competence and panic threshold. I have listened to the radio exchanges between Judge Jo and Vince for many years and they have ranged across the spectrum from the almost banal to the air cracklingly tense, from the funny to the heavily sarcastic but like his relationships with the people, his interface with the technology itself has been patchy with the allocation of radios for BE always a tense time for me.

Veronica and I have known Vince and Helen for over thirty years and Vince hasn’t changed, in my view, in all that time. A dedicated husband, teacher and devoted Father, his daughter Megan rode and competed here for many years, putting a real family spin on things. We often saw Megan competing being cheered on by Mrs Evans (Helen) and her mother while Vince watched indulgently from the collecting ring. His other chief characteristic would obviously be his carefulness with money. He possessed a morbid fear of entering a bar at the head of a company and he always made sure he wore laced shoes as an additional precaution, but despite this tendency he has always enjoyed a large group of friends. He played cricket at a high standard for many years and continues to enjoy his golf, but a new pastime came into his life a few years ago, his ukulele! He has played in a ukulele orchestra for a number of years and is always ready to regale anyone with an interesting, diverting tale of the ukulele, very handy if you need to clear competitors from the secretary’s box.

In short Vince has been an integral part of the fabric of Eland Lodge for many years and he will most definitely be missed but not forgotten. We wish you all the very best in your retirement.