Tributes paid to Paula Sykes, Norfolk’s horse riding teacher

Paula with two of Pat Smythes most famous horses named Tosca and Prince Hal. Picture: Donna Clayton

Paula with two of Pat Smythes most famous horses named Tosca and Prince Hal. Picture: Donna Clayton


Tributes have been paid to one of the trainers instrumental in making equestrianism in Norfolk what it is today.

Pauline Phyllis Betty Sykes, died at Brooklands Nursing Home on September 15, aged 88. She is known as the owner of Cringleford Riding School and a well known figure in the riding community.

She started the riding school in 1963 and ran it until it closed in 1995.

Donna Clayton, 51, was a student of Miss Sykes from the age of three and they became good friends.

She said: “She always had loads of people around her but she would always like to be by herself. She didn’t let anybody get too close and would always put the animals before herself.”

“She did a lot for the horsing community, everyone in the horsing scene in Norfolk will have known her,

“I think she did more in her life than most of us can dream of.”

Miss Sykes is famous for being the horse groom to Pat Smythe, the first woman to show jump at the Olympics back in 1956, and travelled to three Olympic games with the show jumper.

“Paula went on to travel all over the world with Pat. In the horsing world, if you ask any rider, Pat Smythe is the goddess of show jumping.

“She was the best of the best there ever was and Paula was right there with her as the groom, travelling with her and looking after the horses.”

Miss Sykes left show jumping and became chairlady of the Beccles and Bungay Riding Club and was awarded the ‘Cubitt Award’ for 25-years-service to the Pony Club.

Geoff Martin said: “It is true to say that Paula dedicated her entire life to equines, and was one of the most respected and knowledgeable horse-people most had ever met. Although gone now, I’m sure her legacy will live on in the countless persons whose lives she touched.”

Service is being held at St. Faith’s Crematorium, Norwich on Friday, October 6 at 2.45 p.m. No flowers but donations are welcome.


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