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Pioneering 'flying groom' Robin Wakelam dies

PIONEERING ‘flying groom’ Robin Wakelam died last month at his home in Spain. He was 66 and hadsuffered from motor neurone disease for the past four years.

Wakelam was the British Bloodstock Agency’s first flying groom – the person who manages the welfare of horses on board planes.

He worked for the BBA for 28 years and oversaw the transport of horses all over the world – including flying the first thoroughbreds into Vietnam, where he stayed to teach grooms how to care for them. He was also closely involved with the sales at Tattersalls, making arrangements for the transport of horses bought by the BBA.

Coventry-bron Wakelam spent much of his childhood in Norfolk where he first rode ponies and had his love of horses nurtured. He arrived in Newmarket in 1955 with the intention of becoming a jockey but failed to make it, though he worked for John Oxley and over the years rode out for trainers including Clive Brittain, Ted Leader and John Winter.

Nevertheless, Wakelam reached the top of his profession travelling horses. At the 1996 Horseracing Writers Association Derby awards he was given the International Racing Bureau award for services to international racing, along with four other flying grooms.

In 2008, working for Pedens Transport, Wakelam shipped the British showjumping team to Hong Kong for the Beijing Olympics.

Wakelam, who emigrated to Andalusia in 2000, is survived by his wife Anne, son Andrew and sister Judith. His funeral was held on February 20.

 

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