Para Selector and BD judge Juliet Seal passes away, aged 86

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British equestrian organisations are paying tribute following the passing of Juliet Seal.

Juliet, one of the most influential figures in the development of Para Dressage in Great Britain, died peacefully at home on 30 January at the age of 86.

As a BD List 2 Judge, FEI Para Judge, Para Selector and Chair of Selectors, Juliet’s unwavering support played a key role in shaping and cultivating Para Dressage, leading to successive Championship successes for the British team during her time at the forefront of the sport. In 2015, Juliet received the BEF Medal of Honour and in 2017, she received the British Dressage Medal of Honour.

Juliet Rose Seal was born to John and Betty Perrot on midsummer’s day in 1937, and she grew up in Cheshire. She emigrated to Canada at 19, returning to the UK on the death of her stepfather. After marrying David Seal and creating a family, she moved to Jersey, where she lived for more than 20 years. Alongside enjoying lessons from visiting trainers such as Carl Hester, she became DC for the local Pony Club branch, Chief Road Safety Officer for all the Channel Islands. She was Chairman of the Jersey Riding for the Disabled Association for ten years. It was this involvement with the RDA that began her journey with Para Dressage.

Juliet began training as a British Dressage judge in 2000 on her return to Hampshire, developing her skills to List 2 and gained international para judge status. In 2004, the year of the Athens Paralympics, Juliet became a Para Selector, progressing to Chief Para Selector in 2009, a position she then held until Rio 2016. Her calm nature, quiet diplomacy and openness made her an excellent selector.

“I first met Juliet when going to judge and stay in Jersey,” commented List 2A Judge and former Chair of Para Selectors, Carolyn Gardiner. “When I became a Para Selector, Juliet was Chairman, and for seven wonderful years we worked alongside each other – from 2009 to Rio in 2016.

“My first Championships as a selector, alongside Michel Assouline and Juliet, was the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky,” continued Carolyn. “We went out there together and she really got me into the role. Then Waveney Luke came in just before London 2012 and the three of us worked as a team very well. London was the most amazing experience.”

“Juliet was a wonderful, kind and lovely person. She was full of common sense, and she had so much empathy. It was a privilege to have worked with her for many years. We were tremendous friends, and I will miss her greatly.”

During her time as a selector, Juliet was instrumental in the unprecedented success of the British team. She selected for two Paralympic Games, three World Championships and four European Championships, all of which resulted in Team Gold.

Current Chair of Para Selectors, Joyce Head, reflects on her time working alongside Juliet: “I came on board nine years ago when the selection panel consisted of Juliet, Carolyn and Waveney, until Juliet’s retirement a year later. The three of them were just brilliant, with Juliet the strong leader of the group and she was always there with the right encouragement. She was so approachable, a good listener and she had everything, including her vast knowledge, at her fingertips. You were never afraid to ask her anything and the main thing for me was what a caring person she was. She was a real lady.”

British Dressage Chief Executive Jason Brautigam commented: “The immense contribution that Juliet made to the development of Para Dressage during her two terms as Para Selector cannot be under-estimated. This was a period of unprecedented international success for our Para athletes, culminating in a phenomenal twenty-medal haul at the Paralympics in London 2012 and Rio 2016, where Team GB won a combined twelve gold, nine silver and one bronze. Juliet leaves behind a wonderful legacy that will endure for many generations to come.”

Juliet’s interest in horse racing led to her owning a part share in about 20 horses that she followed avidly. She also taught herself to be a talented and adventurous cook, and she was a keen gardener.

Katie Gilmour is the host of Poles, Piaffe & Prosecco: the podcast for riders that love to train, laugh and drink prosecco! The podcast is free to listen to on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

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