Star Club Equestrian Stunned at Overall Business Award


Perhaps it was frustration that led to the establishment of Star Club Equestrian Program five years ago but the results in just a few short years speak for themselves.

Star Club Equestrian Program was named Business Singleton Outstanding Business of the Year earlier this month and founder Sharon Bassett was stunned and speechless when the not-for-profit organisation’s name was announced.

“We were honoured to be nominated and then to take out the category for excellence in diversity and inclusion was reward enough and to be honest, I didn’t even know there was an overall award so when we were named, well I think I swore a little,” Sharon said.

The organisation’s Committee Member, Jamie Illfield-Bell admitted after winning the category she was looking forward to hitting the dance floor and had relaxed with her colleagues only to hear Star Club Equestrian Program being asked to come forward for the top gong. 

While Sharon was gathering her thoughts on stage, Jamie took the opportunity to seek sponsorship from businesses within the audience.

While many remain unaware of the achievement of Star Club, the story needs to be told.

Sharon’s son, Kyle Chapman, is a capable horse rider but his capacity to compete is restricted because he also has a disability that is not inclusive in current equestrian competitions.

Paralympics don’t have a classification, in fact there are no formal classifications for riders with autism, intellectual disabilities, acquired brain injuries of cognitive or behavioural conditions in any equestrian competition in Australia.  Anxiety and depression and other mental health conditions are not catered for either.

Wanting to see her son, Kyle Chapman, have every competition and riding opportunity available to him, Sharon started Star Club Equestrian Program.

“I knew there was a gap but I thought it was this big (Sharon holding a basketball size in her hands) and then when we started it was this big (as she outstretched her arms,” she said.

From 10 riders to now 100 riders across New South Wales with seven host venues in Singleton, Milbrodale and Broke, Merriwa, Tamworth, Illawarra Region, Port Macquarie and Mandalong holding regular sessions, clinics and workshops, this organisation that started out of an ambition of a young man and the love of his mother is galloping into the performance arena.

Since starting and advocating for the competition needs of riders, equestrian competitions in New South Wales are opening up competition categories to be more inclusive.

Tamworth Dressage Club have introduced a ‘Star Section’ or ‘Rider with Disability Section” that specifically opens a competition category for those that Star Club caters for.

Sharon has a dream for her students, and more specifically Kyle, to compete at the highest level and who knows, maybe Federation Equestrian International might read about what they are doing and open the competition at the level of the Olympics.

Overall Outstanding Business is a wonderful recognition and when you know what has gone on the background, it is very much deserved.

It is not-for-profit and all staff work voluntarily and are grateful to sponsorship which, in more recent times, has included MACH Energy Mt Pleasant, Silveradoh Promotional Products, Horseland Maitland and Raymond Terrace, Caledonian Hotel Singleton, Lions Club of NorthLakes Central Coast, Farmers Warehouse Singleton, Furneys Stockfeeds Tamworth and Bec Williams from NSW Equissage.