Olympian Charlotte Dujardin given Freedom of the Forest

By Jake Chown  
Monday 9th May 2022 6:00 am
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Six time Olympic medalist Charlotte Dujardin (centre) with Forest Council Chair Julia Gooch and Leader of the Council Tim Gwilliam (FODDC )

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SIX time Olympic medalist Charlotte Dujardin described the Forest of Dean as “an incredible part of the world” as she was honoured with the Freedom of the district last week.

Ms Dujardin, who is Britain’s most successful female dressage rider, was presented with the prestigious honour at the Forest Council offices in Coleford last Thursday (April 28) by Council Chair Julia Gooch and Leader of the Council Tim Gwilliam.

Charlotte, who lives and trains in Newent, became Britain’s joint most accomplished female Olympian and the first British woman to win six Olympic medals when she won double bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

She previously won Gold and Silver at the Rio Games in 2016 and double Gold at London 2012.

Cllr Gwilliam said the Council is “incredibly proud” of Charlotte’s achievements as she was bestowed with the title ‘Freewoman of the Forest of Dean’ at the formal presentation last week.

On receiving the honour, Ms Dujardin said: “It is with great pride that I accept the honour of being given the Freedom of the Forest of Dean.

“The Forest is an incredible part of the world that I’m happy to call my home, and the district has been such a great support for both me and my career.

“I am honoured to receive this wonderful accolade and would like to thank all the Councillors and residents for their support.”

Charlotte and her trainer Carl Hester are Britain’s most successful dressage riders, both of whom live and train at Mr Hester’s yard near Newent.

She and her horse Valegro set a new Grand Prix Special world record in April 2012 with an 88.022 per cent score, and there is now a “dancing” bronze statue of Valegro in Newent Town Centre.

Charlotte has also been European Champion, World Champion and holds all three World Records in dressage.

In 2014, she was announced as The Sunday Times and Sky Sports Sportswoman of the Year after winning the Fédération Equestre Internationale championship and BT Action Woman of the Year.

She also received two prestigious national honours after her Olympic successes in 2012, including being appointed Officer of the British Empire in the 2013 New Year Honours and Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2017 New Year Honours, both for services to equestrianism.

Cllr Gwilliam said of Ms Dujardin: “We’re incredibly proud of Charlotte’s achievements throughout her career and the way in which she has championed the Forest of Dean.

“Many of us would have watched in amazement as Ms Dujardin and her equine partners have consistently led the way for Great Britain in recent Olympics.

“Her tally of medals is remarkable and a testament to her talent, her efforts and her commitment. 

“These are all traits that young people in the Forest of Dean can aspire to.

“We can’t all become legendary Olympic champions of course, but young people should look at Ms Dujardin and be inspired to be the best that they can be, to be whatever they want to be and above all to do it here, in the wonderful Forest of Dean.

“The Freedom of this wonderful district is a great honour, it has taken a remarkable and sustained period of sporting success to be granted it and what it can mean to the young people of the area is even more precious.”

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