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Irish Paralympians benefit from VWA support

The Irish Para Equestrian Team: From Left: Gerry Savage, James Dwyer, Helen Kearney and Eilish Byrne (seated) with reserve rider Rosemary Gaffney on her horse Aldham Mill Dubloon

Whilst most Brits will be waving the red, white and blue of the Union Jack at the forthcoming Paralympics, Verner Wheelock Associates has lent its support to the Irish Para Equestrian team. VWA has provided sponsorship to the team and will be cheering on the Irish medal hopefuls at the Para Equestrian events which take place in Greenwich Park from 30th August to 4th September.

From Left: Gerry, Eilish, James and Helen at the pre-Games training camp at Joan Keogh’s Spruce Lodge

VWA’s Irish connection lies in the fact that founder, Dr Verner Wheelock is originally from Enniscorthy, County Wexford and  his daughter Kathryn, who has cerebral palsy, has ridden as a member of the Irish Para Equestrian team since 2007. She has represented Ireland internationally on numerous occasions including a 9th place at the World Championships.

This year is the first time that Ireland has ever managed to qualify a full team for the Paralympic Games. Unfortunately, due to a fall whilst competing in France this year, followed by another accident resulting in a chipped bone in her thumb, Kathryn was not able to compete for a place in the team. However she will be enthusiastically supporting from the sidelines.

The team with their supporters who will be heading for the 2012 Paralympic events in Greenwich, London

VWA’s Managing Director, Alison Wheelock, said: “If you have been inspired by the London 2012 Olympics just wait for the Paralympics! You will be amazed by the talent of the para riders and the quality of their horse power, but it’s an expensive sport and the funding and support in Ireland is nowhere near the level enjoyed by Team GB. Many of the Irish para riders are training full-time and are not receiving the level of funding they need in order to continue. The riders recently lost some major funding, so we wanted to offer our support to them. I would encourage any company with an Irish connection to get involved in supporting these dedicated and talented athletes.”

Team chef!

A new meaning for the team ‘chef’! (The team were treated to top cuisine during their camp at Spruce Lodge). Hope he’s done his food safety training!

Para Equestrian Ireland (PEI) is a charity that offers support to the Irish para equestrian athletes. Please contact PEI treasurer Michael Kearney if you are interested in sponsoring the team or making a private donation. Email: michael.kearney@alcatel-lucent.com Website:http://paraequestrianireland.com


Further Information:

The Irish Para Equestrian Team for the 2012 Paralympics consists of Gerry Savage (Grade Ia, based near York, England), James Dwyer (Grade IV, based in USA), Helen Kearney (Grade Ia based near Dublin) and Eilish Byrne (Grade II, based in Northern Ireland) and non-travelling reserve rider Rosemary Gaffney (Grade IV).

The Irish riders will compete in three of the five disability grades, Grade Ia (most disabled), Grade II and Grade IV (least disabled) and will perform dressage movements in line with their level of disability. The Grade Ia riders perform in walk only, Grade II walk and trot and Grade IV carry out complex dressage movements in walk, trot and canter, leaving most able bodied riders in awe of the level and quality of the work achieved. All will compete in the Team and Individual Championship events, followed by the Freestyle to Music event.

For more information, please contact Jan Wheelock at  jan.wheelock@vwa.co.uk


Team Ireland had a fantastic result in the Para Equestrian Team competition with an unexpected BRONZE MEDAL.

Team results were:

 Great Britain

Also, Grade 1a Helen Kearney and Mr Cool had an amazing event and achieved a silver medal in the Championship Test and bronze in the freestyle, with all the Irish team riders also achieving excellent placings and just missing out on the medals.

For full results go to: