George Lane Fox

IT only because of the vision of George Lane Fox, who has passed away aged 81, that this year’s Bramham Horse trials
were a final Olympic trial for Team GB and several other nations. It enabled Zara Phillips, the Queen’s granddaughter
to qualify for the London
Games on her horse High Kingdom.

Mr Lane Fox was the ninth generation of his family to live at Bramham Park and started Bramham Horse Trials in 1973. He had followed his father Joe into the Household Cavalry
and after 20 years service, returned home to continue the restoration work of the Park, started by his mother Marcia post-war.

He set the Estate on to a modern business footing, developing the farming and forestry enterprises. However, it was the horse trials which were the highlight of his year and he put his heart and soul into building them into the international success which they are today.

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The first competition in 1973 was a one day event with Mr Lane Fox as event director and course designer. He always had big plans: a year later it returned as a three day event and just seven years later, it was awarded international status.

Event directors came and went but Mr Lane Fox always made it his priority to ensure the event was a favourite amongst the riders and the supportive Yorkshire crowd; indeed it is now one of the popular outdoor events in the county’s social calendar.

He was immensely proud of his “home team” of staff and volunteers, recruited to run the event, many of whom are still helping today.

Mr Lane Fox never missed a prize giving and was always smartly attired in his bowler hat and suit, adding tone to the occasion.

He had great satisfaction following his competitors and their horses in their careers on from Bramham, to four-star and then to international teams, knowing that his home event
had played its part in their success. Equally, he loved to
see amateurs venturing to Bramham for the biggest test of their lives and made a point of trying to talk to every one during the event.

His eldest son, Nick, said: “I will always remember Dad taking me, as a boy, to choose trees to turn into his cross-country fences and I’ll keep a picture in my mind of him sitting at the marquee door, greeting every guest, at the Bramham Cocktail Party. His tenacity in keeping the horse trials going for the first 10 years, when it cost him money, is an example to me and everybody else.”

It is not just countryside enthusiasts who have reason to be grateful to Mr Lane Fox for his foresight and ingenuity in generating income for his family estate; the Leeds Festival is now staged at Bramham Park every August after switching from Roundhay Park 10 years ago. It is one of the biggest pop concerts in the country.

The funeral for Mr Lane Fox, whose wife Victoria died in 1997, will be held in All Saints Church, Bramham, at 11.30am on Wednesday.

Mr Lane Fox is survived by three children – Nick who now heads Bramham Park, James and Edward.