Charlotte’s Trophy is an annual tournament hosted by Dallas Burston Polo Club celebrating the life of Charlotte Walter, writes Andy Thomas.
Charlotte’s family sponsor the event, to raise money for Helen & Douglas House, the Oxford-based hospice that have supported Charlotte and the Walter family before, during and after Charlotte sadly passed away.
The event, which also marks the last tournament of the winter season, is played on the 2.4-acre all-weather SuperArena and offers guests the opportunity to spectate from the comfort of The Millstone Hare. This year, guests at Charlotte’s Trophy watched from the balconies overlooking the arena as five teams faced off throughout the day, in three
As the teams and grooms prepared their ponies, the clouds began to part, letting the sun pour through, filling the arena with a warm Spring glow. The commentator’s voice started to boom around the estate, introducing the players to the crowd gathering in the arena-side pub. The two teams, Offchurchbury Polo Club and Environmental Energies, made their way on to the surface of the giant arena, ready for battle.
Meanwhile, in the Drawing Room of The Millstone Hare – the hospitality venue for Charlotte’s Trophy, guests were treated to a welcome drink, provided by one of the event sponsors, RK Vodka, and invited to join the commentator, Joe North, on the balcony to watch the first match.
With their favourite teams chosen, the spectators began to cheer as the goals came thick and fast, with Joe calling each move and providing an entertaining narration of the game. The excitement from each chukka reverberated around the estate like the thundering of hooves on the arena’s sandy surface.
As the first game drew to a close, the guests meandered towards the warm comfort of The Millstone Hare. Inside the Drawing Room, the hospitality guests browsed the raffle table, comprising of prizes donated by the supporters and sponsors of Charlotte’s Trophy. Displayed across the table was a fabulous spectrum of prizes, ranging from
vouchers for health and wellbeing treatments contributed by The Health Pod in Daventry and a 4.5 litre bottle of Famous Grouse whisky, donated by Major Richard Carney MBE – Director of Group Operations for the Dallas Burston Group, to a back and shoulder massage with Aromatherapy from Studio53 in Northampton, and tickets to the highly sought-after Christmas party nights at the IXL Events Centre at Dallas Burston Polo Club.
The day’s commentary continued as the second match got underway between CANI and Oxford Polo. Despite the changing weather, the balcony was lined with smiling faces, heads turning as the ponies and players darted around the arena, all eyes locked on to the ball. Above the arena, the clouds had been steadily drawing nearer and were now hanging over the estate, giving the match a more sinister feel. The moody grey sky suggested rain was imminent, but nobody was perturbed by the threat. The buzzer echoed around the arena, signalling the end of the match and the spectators clapped the players as they shook hands and rode away, leaving the arena surface to settle, ready for the final game of the day.
Back in the vibrant atmosphere of the Drawing Room, the hospitality guests had returned to find that the food, served by The Millstone Hare team, was ready and laid out on the buffet table. Before long, the sound of knives and forks provided the soundtrack to the event, whilst the guests guests filled up on the warm wintery dishes.
The final fixture began with the Beavan Polo team facing off against the youthful Oxford Polo team. Before entering the arena, Huw Beavan said “The relaxed atmosphere at this event creates the perfect conditions for new players to experience
tournament polo. My team, Beavan Polo, is made up of young players that come to me for lessons and tournaments like Charlotte’s Trophy allow them to grow in the game.”
Guests of the hospitality package, now fuelled by the warmth of the food, had assembled once more along the balcony to enjoy the last match of the day. An incredibly gripping contest saw 12 goals scored in the first 2 chukkas, creating a 9 – 3
score line in Oxford’s favour. The 3rd chukka stunned spectators as Huw Beavan, Polo Manager at Dallas Burston Polo Club, scored an astonishing 6 goals, bringing the
teams level for the final chukka. Joe North called the teams back on to the sand for the final section of the game and the spectators clung to the railings in anticipation. The next seven minutes of polo were a test of endurance and will. As both teams fought to lift Charlotte’s Trophy, Oxford Polo mustered an impressive wave of last-minute energy,
running Beavan Polo out 12 goals to nine.
The polo teams made their way up to the Drawing Room, to resounding applause from the spectators. Charlotte’s Trophy was presented by Major Carney, to Oxford Polo, amid cheers and camera flashes.
Following the polo prize-giving ceremony, Sue Walter, Charlotte’s mother, began to draw tickets from the raffle. The Walter family
were thrilled and overwhelmed to see £1,000 raised for Helen & Douglas House, in raffle tickets alone.
Adam Walter, Charlotte’s brother, said “My family and I are always so grateful to the polo club for hosting this very special event. Helen & Douglas House were so incredibly supportive to my sister before she passed away and have continued to support my family since. We were extremely happy to have raised such a great amount for the hospice, it’s nice to be able to give something back.”