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Occasion photographer and cross-country starter Mike Bain dies age 70

  • Mike Bain, the event photographer and cross-country starter died on 26 July, aged 70, following a long illness.

    Born in Edinburgh in 1952, Mr Bain was a drum major in the Royal Scots, before working in theatre. He married Marianne in 1978, and they later moved to Manchester and began attending Burghley Horse Trials around 30 years ago.

    Mr Bain ran a catering company, then formed a chauffeuring business, 5 Star Chauffeur Cars, which he ran until he retired last year. He had a passion for photography and started taking photos at horse trials as an amateur photographer. In 1999, he won the Badminton Horse Trials amateur event photographer of the year competition with a picture of Andrew Nicholson and Splendid Style taken at Burghley. The prize was accreditation at the 2000 Badminton Horse Trials and following this, he became a regular photographer at many events.

    He continued to take photos over the years as a hobby and supplied images to publications including HorseTalk NZ. He later became involved in fence judging, cross-country starting and commentating and was a familiar face at events including Skipton, Somerford Park and Bishop Burton. In 2002, he and Marianne fenced judged at the Jerez World Equestrian Games, volunteered at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2006 Asian Games in Doha.

    Mr Bain met his long-term partner, Steph Freeman, in 2008 and became stepfather to her children Chloe and Olivia. The couple formed a cross-country starting team, “Bain’s Babes” and were familiar faces at many events. The couple were part of the fence judging team at the London Olympic Games in 2012, the World Equestrian Games in 2014 at Normandy and in 2018 at Tryon, USA.

    Mr Bain attended the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 as part of the start team and had planned to attend his fourth Olympics in Tokyo, but this was prevented by the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Bain also commentated at the eventing pony Europeans in Poland in 2011.

    Known as “Lord Lochaber” to his friends, Ms Freeman described Mr Bain as “larger than life”.

    “He lived a very fulfilled life and took every opportunity to enjoy it. He was very kind and would always help someone if he could,” she said. “He leaves a massive hole.”

    A British Eventing spokesman said Mr Bain was well known by riders, owners and photographers and he gave his time to the sport in many ways.

    “He was an outstanding volunteer and will be greatly missed by all who knew him,” said the spokesman.

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