Equestrian journalist Pippa Cuckson has received the Liz Dudden Memorial Trophy in recognition of her tireless quest to expose horse welfare issues at the highest level of sport. Her ongoing coverage of the Middle East endurance scandals in international media outlets, including her blog at horse-canada.com/cuckson-report, has shone a light on these issues, and demanded improvements.

Presented by the British Equestrian Writers Association (BEWA), the Liz Dudden Memorial Trophy recognizes outstanding contributions to equestrian sport. Cuckson accepted the award at the BEWA annual awards ceremony, held December 18th at the Olympia Hilton, at a special luncheon during the London International Horse Show at Olympia.

BEWA president, Alan Smith, explained that the Liz Dudden award was started in 1993 in honour of accomplished journalist Liz Dudden. “She died, all too early, of cancer,” said Smith. “So, we decided to give an award in her honour to someone other than a competitor: e.g. a team trainer or manager, a show organiser or official. Generally speaking, we prefer to give it to someone outside our profession, but felt that Pippa’s work, especially on endurance and associated horse welfare, warranted it this year.”

Cuckson is only the second journalist to receive the award – the first being Michael Clayton, past editor of Horse & Hound, in 2011. Other past recipients include Ronnie Massarella, Jennie Loriston-Clark, Hugh Thomas, Mike Etherington-Smith, Rob Hoekstra, Bob Ellis, Yogi Briesner, Jon Doney, Bill Henson and Douglas Bunn.

Fellow journalist, Kate Green, gave a speech at the ceremony, in which she noted that “making yourself unpopular in the horse world takes quite a bloody-minded courage.” And she also commented on the excellent care Cuckson gives her own horses, saying “If you were to come back in the afterlife as a horse, you would hope that you were owned by our winner [Pippa].”

Green added that Cuckson was “the decisive winner in a vote for the award by members – the first time there has ever been a clear majority for one person.”

In response to the award, Cuckson said “It a special privilege to win something judged by your peer group, but I am doubly pleased because it underlines that a wider public recognises that there is a big issue in equestrianism that needs to be sorted.

“I am on the BEWA committee and can only express amazement at the subterfuge that must have been involved to keep this a secret from me ’til the day. It was only half way through Kate’s speech that the penny dropped!”

Earlier this year Cuckson, a journalist for more than 35 years, who has been associated mostly with Horse & Hound and more recently the Daily Telegraph, won the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists Bureau Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to journalism in 2013.