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Mom with terminal most cancers hopes HOYS victory will present others to ‘dream huge and don’t quit’

  • A mother who was diagnosed with terminal cancer weeks before her daughter won her class at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) says she hopes the achievement will show that “no matter what, dream big and don’t give up”.

    Chantelle Chapman, 17, and Greenholme Falcon (Dan) won in the HOYS junior M&M ridden championship, which their mother Victoria said was a result of the sheer hard work put in by Chantelle and her brother Bobby.

    “Two years ago, we were a normal family,” Victoria told H&H. “Then out of the blue, there was a family breakdown. We lost our family business, my husband has gone – good riddance – it’s been absolutely horrific but the children have been like rocks.

    “I just want to shout from the rooftops how wonderful they are.”

    Victoria said she has always been involved with horses, and Chantelle started out in Pony Club, but then took an interest in her mother’s showing.

    Victoria looked for an M&M pony for Chantelle, having researched and decided a Fell would be best, and eventually found Dan, as a five-year-old, six years ago.

    Dan and Chantelle slowly worked their way up, from local to county level, and eventually winning at the 2018 SEIB Search for A Star championships.

    “People said what a special pony and that her riding was lovely, and we were loving it,” Victoria said. “I was enjoying being on the ground more than riding, and I ended up selling my small hunter, hanging up my boots and swapping them for a grooming bag.”

    Success followed including qualifying for the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS), in which Chantelle and Dan were placed, and coming fourth at HOYS last year – then this year’s victory.

    “I get upset because things have been so hard,” said Victoria, who was diagnosed with cancer in March this year. “The news was a major kick for the children but we’re fighting it. Then before HOYS, I was told the treatment had worked but the cancer’s come back in another place, and it’s terminal.

    “It’s been such a rollercoaster and I feel my kids deserve recognition for how strong they’ve been and how they’ve kept going. We’re a threesome and we’ve not let things beat us, although it’s been very tough financially. People have said we should sell the horses but they’re so important to the kids; they’ve been our therapy through all this.”

    Victoria said she hopes the HOYS win will show just how much the children have achieved – 15-year-old Bobby is as much part of the team who worked hard to get Dan looking at his best for the show. He has also started riding himself.

    “He said ‘Mum, I may as well ride’ and I said ‘OK then’,” Victoria said. “I got him a Dartmoor, the cheekiest, naughtiest pony, but it taught him to ride! It dumped him every time he rode but I think he’d have got bored otherwise.”

    Bobby then went on to working hunters, jumping HOYS and RIHS tracks, qualifying for the latter within two years of starting to ride. Bobby now has a Connemara and Chantelle has offered her brother Dan to do workers on, and said she will try the Connemara on the flat.

    “She said ‘Dan’s done this for me, he can do it for you now’,” Victoria said. “That was so sweet, and they’re both so determined, and they know how quickly things change, from everything being perfect, to not being.”

    Chantelle has now had job offers in showing, Victoria said, to learn her trade, while she herself undergoes six months of chemotherapy, and then an immune therapy that has had success in other types of cancer.

    “The treatment wipes you out,” she said. “I’m hoping the immune therapy will keep things at bay and I can stay on it. I’m praying my luck changes; we had luck at HOYS and maybe that’s the start of things changing.

    “I just want to see my kids grown up and know they’re settled and happy. That’s my aim.”

    Anyone who would like to support the family can email

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