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Normandy Riding Club

Normandy Riding Club was formed in 1936 by CW 'Paddy' Johnston and his wife Beryl to encourage the sport of horsemanship in its many forms - show jumping, hunter trials, etc. A practice ring was provided for those who did not have one of their own. The annual subscription was £1 1s (£1 5p) from the start and was still the same in 1959. It entitled members to free use of the ring and jumps at any time as well as entry for Club shows at a reduced fee of 50%. All the shows were open to non-members. The Club laid down a comprehensive set of rules, fault points, etc. for its shows.

Paddy Johnston had been a racing motorcyclist and during the war he was leader of the local Home Guard dispatch riders section, and towards the end of the war he and fellow riders formed Normandy Motorcycle Club. After the war Paddy and Beryl moved from Wyke Heath Farm to 2 The Oaks Pirbright Road, which ceased as a nursery and they converted the land for equestrian use.

2 The Oaks, Pirbright Road
2 The Oaks
Pirbright Road

By 1950 Paddy Johnston had been running the Riding Club for many years and organised a gymkhana four times a year. After Paddy died in the 1960s Beryl continued to run the Club and held pony club meetings at The Oaks which were very popular and three other shows each year including the annual Ragwort Horse Show held at Normandy Hill. The annual Easter Monday show ran until at least 1974.

The Club took part in shows at many grounds in the area, including several in Normandy - Sandpits Farm in 1957 and 1960, East Wyke Farm in 1959, Westwood Lane in 1959 and their own premises at The Oaks. The programmes of some of the events that the Club organised or took part in give a good impression of their activities -

  • A horse show and gymkhana held at Sandpits Farm (near Wyke church) by kind permission of John Wallace Esq (the proprietor) on Saturday 7th September 1957 at 10am in aid of the St John Ambulance Brigade. The judges were Brig. Allen, Lt Col P G Idle and Major L A Scragg. Admission was one shilling, six pence for children and three shillings for ringside cars. Refreshments were available on the field. There were 17 events including Best Rider, Trotting, Jumping, Racing and 'Musical Poles'.
  • Worplesdon gymkhana and dog show on 30th Aug 1958 at Russell Farm, Wood Street.
  • Pirbright pony show on Pirbright village green on Aug 7th (year unknown).
  • Gymkhana at Shawfields recreation ground, Ash on April 25th 1959.
  • Horse show and pony gymkhana at East Wyke Farm on 16th May 1959, presented by 'The Lads of the Village, Aldershot' (a charitable organisation who raised money for sick, aged and infirm in the area) with a refreshment tent, barbecue and licenced bar.
  • Horse show and gymkhana at Westwood Lane Normandy by kind permission of Mrs Coussmaker and E Sherwood Esq in aid of Wyke church on May 30th 1959. Judges were Col P C Idle, Major W M Quinn and Mr & Mrs Parfitt. The Committee was Capt Cradock, C W Johnson and W A Ryan, Secretary C W Johnson of 2 The Oaks Pirbright Road, tel. Ash Vale 3269. Field secretaries were Miss M Coussmaker and Mrs Mitchell.
  • St Johns Ambulance horse show and gymkhana at Mytchett Park on June 6th 1960.
  • Ragwort horse show and gymkhana at Ash Hill Road (near Dover Arms) on 13th Aug 1960.
  • Sandpits Farm horse show and gymkhana at Sandpits Farm (near Wyke church) by kind permission of John Wallace Esq on 20th Aug 1960.
  • Lads of the Village Aldershot horse show and gymkhana at Tweseldown Racecourse, Aldershot on 20th May 1961.
  • Ragwort little horse show at Ash Hill Road fields on 7th Oct 1961.
  • Avenue Farm championship day, show jumping and gymkhana on 22nd Sept 1963.
  • Ash Green hunter trials at Sunny Brook Farm, Green Lane, Ash Green on 27th Sept 1964.
  • John Squier
    from information provided by Madeline Buttner
    and in the Century of Normandy book by Normandy Historians.
    Oct 2023.

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