As those of us who had the privilege of knowing Ian soon realised, he was a person with a host of qualities that are seldom seen in one individual. He was a person of absolute integrity, boundless generosity and a wicked sense of humour, which he used to illustrate on the most unexpected occasions by lighting that short fuse for which he was renowned and causing a great explosion just to keep us on our toes. A great collector of jokes, Ian could also be relied on to enliven any meeting with just the right amusing anecdote.
He was a devotee of the racing car, and if there was a Grand Prix on television, neither wild horses nor visitors could drag him away from that screen. He was a devotee also of the Arabian horse, and spent decades in promoting its quality and welfare, both nationally and worldwide. With Annette he set up Briery Close Stud over 40 years ago, and together they built it up to a world-renowned breeding programme, adding bloodlines from many countries to the basically Crabbet foundations. Both Ian and Annette took great pleasure in attending shows, where they were always the most generous of hosts at their famous picnics, and they took great pride in the many successes of their home-bred Arabians, so many of which became champions.
Ian’s full title – Major Thomas William Hedley, OBE, DL, JP – exemplifies the way in which he conducted his life – a life of integrity and service to others. He served his country in time of war; he served his county as Deputy Lieutenant of Westmoreland; he served his local community as a Magistrate. He also dedicated much of his life to the Arabian horse at home and abroad. He was a Council Member, Governor and twice President of the British Arab Horse Society and last, but by no means least, for nearly 30 years he served the world’s Arabian horse community as a member of WAHO’s Executive Committee and then as our Secretary. Nothing WAHO needed was ever too much trouble for Ian, from his time to his expertise, from his experience to his enthusiasm. For such generosity we will always be grateful.
This is truly the end of an era in the history of WAHO, for Ian was one of that very small group of visionaries who first had the idea of starting an international organization for the benefit of the Arabian horse. Ian’s commitment to WAHO never wavered. At Executive Committee meetings and Conferences his contributions were always valuable and to the point. He often contrived to end the meetings with his latest favourite joke. At the historic 1970 meeting in England, Ian Hedley said something which the Executive Committee of WAHO still believe in to this day. He said the world saw the Arabian horse in the beginning as a war horse, but he hoped that it would finally become an instrument of peace and understanding. It is in no small part thanks to Ian that WAHO’s extraordinary achievement over the past 30 years has been to been to make this hope a reality.
We feel sure that the WAHO family will join us in expressing our sincerest condolences to Annette – Ian Hedley was one of a kind, and will always be remembered with the greatest affection by his many friends around the world.