Actor Martin Clunes presents police officer with award for horse safety talks likened to stand-up comedy

Actor Martin Clunes presents the award to Sgt Zoe Billings.
Actor Martin Clunes presents the award to Sgt Zoe Billings.

A North Yorkshire Police officer who gives horseriding talks described as "road safety meets stand-up comedy" has won a national award.

Sergeant Zoe Billings was presented with the Tarquin Trophy by the British Horse Society (BHS) president, actor Martin Clunes, at a ceremony in London.

Sergeant Zoe Billings with Meg the horse.

Sergeant Zoe Billings with Meg the horse.

The trophy is awarded annually to an organisation that makes a significant contribution to equestrian safety.

To date, Sgt Billings has delivered safety presentations to about 300 riders at joint North Yorkshire Police and BHS events.

Her talks are aimed at reducing the vulnerability of horse riders and involve talking about both the practicalities of rider safety and the psychological side, such as when to ride, when not to ride, and how to react when their horse is scared by something.

Improving riders’ relationships with motorists, including courteous riding, such as thanking motorists and what to do when drivers react in a disappointing way, forms part of the talk.

Speaking after the ceremony at Saddlers Hall, Sgt Billings said: “I am delighted that the talks have been recognised by the British Horse Society.

"After investigating fatal and serious road collisions for several years and seeing the devastation they cause, this is a small contribution to help keep riders safe.

“The presentation includes much humour and self-deprecation, and features my own horse, Megan. It’s been likened to road safety meeting stand-up comedy, which is a great way to engage people and get serious messages across."

Director of Safety for The British Horse Society, Alan Hiscox said: “We’re delighted to have awarded North Yorkshire Police with the Tarquin Trophy for their exceptional service in the cause of equestrian safety.

"North Yorkshire Police were one of the first to support our ‘Dead Slow’ campaign and help spread its vital safety messages and they have shown continual support to the BHS over the past couple of years."

The next talk is at Robinsons in Malton on Thursday from 6pm to 8pm.