Here we meet Jon Phillips, Chairman of the Equifest Show Committee to find out about how he became associated with ‘The Festival for Horse Lovers’ and what Equifest mean to him after so many years being involved.
Equifest Show Committee Chairman Jon Phillips has had a long association with all things equestrian. Coming from a horse mad family, he has ridden and competed since childhood with has a keen interest in showing.
A successful businessman, his love of horses and competing were the inspiration behind his company, having founded PRP Rescue Services in 1985, specialising in horsebox and trailer breakdown assistance.
How did you first become involved with Equifest?
It is now a little over eight years since I received a telephone call from the East of England Agricultural Society, asking if I would like to sit on a newly formed committee to launch the new indoor arena that was then merely an idea on a drawing board.
My background within the equestrian world was probably the catalyst for the request. I was BSPS Chairman of Area Chairmen for three years, Council member and editor of the BSPS News Review for several more, all shortly followed by a stint on the Board of Ponies (UK). Add to this some 30 years of showing with the family and of course my own company (PRP Rescue Services) and you’ll quickly realise that I was already a suitable case for treatment!
The initial concept was quite simple. The multi-million pound arena was to host all types of entertainment, but twice a year an artificial surface was to be laid for horse shows.
The summer of 2008 saw the first Equifest show. In celebration of the horse – hence the name that our committee came up with – “EQUIFEST”.
What is your main role?
I have now had the privilege of Chairing the Equifest Committee for the last four years as part of the East of England Showground Services.
What aspects of the show do you enjoy the most?
The first show was very much a learning exercise, but the one thing we knew was that we had a winning formula – always respect the competitor, the judge and the steward.
Do this with a desire for excellence, a love of the sport on the best of level playing fields at an affordable price and most importantly do it with a smile!
We have gone from being a small event to the largest show in the UK with some 1,500 stables and entries exceeding 12,000.
It is great to say we have become one of the brightest stars in the showing calendar and watching everyone enjoy themselves at Equifest gives me the most pleasure.
Where do you hope Equifest is in five years’ time?
We have to continue to build on our success. As with any business, we cannot afford to stay still in the market place. We have our five year plans in place and the future should be very exciting, all I can say is ‘watch this space’.
Have there been any highlights for you at Equifest over the years?
The main highlights for me have been simply watching the competitors have a good time and the judges and the stewards finally be rewarded for all their hard work.
What makes Equifest special for you?
The fact that I really feel I am giving something back to the horse world for all the pleasure it has given me.
Will your children be riding at Equifest this year?
My son Jamie will be riding his new Working Hunter and his Retrained Racehorse.
Where can you be found most of the time at Equifest?
Everywhere. I spend all day going around the showground and making sure there are no problems.
Why do you feel Equifest is the success it is?
Equifest is treated as a prize brand – not just another society. A brand founded on true business principles, showing respect for the customer with a desire for excellence. In our case the ‘customer’ is fourfold, the exhibitor, the judges, the stewards and the trade stand holders. Add to this competition on a level playing field and smile from every official and you can’t go far wrong!
Equifest 2015 is held on the East of England Showground, Peterborough from August 12 to 16.