On a beautiful day last month, the team at saddle makers, Bliss of London, shut up shop and had a well-earned factory day out at the Beaufort Polo Club. As well as fulfilling the annual team outing, the event provided the perfect opportunity for presentation of a Keith Bryan PoloMaster Saddle to Mark Tomlinson on behalf of the Club, to be awarded to the most promising young member at the end of the season.
Whilst some of the Bliss team are riders, it was a great experience for the non-horsey staff to swop work bench for polo arena and to try out the saddles that they make on real horses.
“We try and organise a factory/team outing each year before our summer shutdown”, explained Bliss of London Director, Nikki Newcombe. “As we are now sponsoring Beaufort polo club, I thought this would be a good opportunity for everyone to actually see the saddles that they make on horses, especially as many of the team are not ‘horsey’, and also offer them the chance to have a ride for the very first time. Several of us have had lessons before, once was on a BETA organised day, but non of us have ever actually played!”
Particularly impressive were the ‘Magnificent 7’ who had never sat on a horse before, including Lynn, Sonia, Nico, Brad, Josh and Rob. “Everyone enjoy it so much even the non riders who were happy to enjoy watching colleagues, and spending time with the horses. We had a lovely lunch together, with a few drinks afterwards! The following day I asked if there were any aches and pains, all they wanted to know was when we would be doing it again. Even some of the non-riders said next time they would like to have a go”, added Nikki.
The day also doubled up as a good opportunity to present Mark Tomlinson with a saddle for the Mrs T Award. Earlier this year the Tomlinson family and the wider polo community suffered a great loss with the death of their mother, Claire Tomlinson. Claire was a leading exponent of the sport and was passionate about polo at Beaufort, creating one of the World’s leading centres of polo excellence where she was affectionately known as ‘Mrs T’. She also paid particular attention to the development of young players through her involvement with the Poly Club, coaching of Schools Polo and Young England teams and through her pivotal role in the Hurlingham Polo Association’s Fast Track initiative. Some 30 years ago Claire helped Master Saddler, Keith Bryan, to design the original PoloMaster saddle, which has evolved to become the World standard in polo saddles.
“Mum’s legacy is one her children and grandchildren will strive to uphold over the years to come. With this in mind, we have decided to create a ‘Mrs T Award’ in the form of a brand-new Polo Master saddle, as made by Keith Bryan and now Bliss of London, worth over £1,000. The award, given towards the end of the season, will go to the most promising young member of the Club and we are very grateful to Bliss of London for offering to donate this. We will be looking at a range of attributes – including effort, talent and overall attitude on and off the field”, said Mark Tomlinson.
Attending the presentation was Mick Pegg, who started making polo saddles in 1973 and it still making them today age 73.
For more information on the Keith Bryan PoloMaster saddle by Bliss of London, visit www.bliss-of-london.com.