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In Memoriam: Ernest McMillen MBE 1929 -2018

Tributes have poured in for Pony Club stalwart Ernest McMillen, who passed away on 21 February 2018 aged 88.

Ernest, who lived in Comber, Co. Down, worked tirelessly for The Pony Club alongside his late wife, Alma, who died in 2013. He held numerous roles within the organisation, and was elected as Chairman from 1985 to 1991.

Northern Ireland Area Representative, Liz Lowry, remembers Ernest fondly and describes him as ‘one of the greatest volunteer supporters of The Pony Club, who was highly respected by all who were fortunate to have known him and work with him.’

Liz said: “Ernest was a ‘people’s person’ who charmed everyone with a gift that was unique. He took pride in visiting as many Branches as he could, large and small, and was a regular helper at events; always looking dapper and sporting his trademark bow tie.”

Taking up riding in his mid 30s when his children became involved with the sport, Ernest went on to become Master of the North Down Harriers and was involved with the Irish Horse Trials Society, now Eventing Ireland.  He also enjoyed over six decades of success as an international racing and rally driver, competing at racetracks around the globe and often taking part in rallies with Alma by his side as navigator.

He applied his entrepreneurial talent and energy to build a successful insurance brokerage business in Belfast, and he owned and managed a hotel in Newtownards. He was also involved in the rescue of a carpet making factory in Saintfield.

The creation of Pony Club Centre Membership was just one of the numerous successes achieved by Ernest, whose long involvement with The Pony Club also included a term as Chairman of Centre Membership; a post he held until 2007. Introduced in 1998, there are now almost 14,000 Members in around 500 Centres the UK, and nearly 300 Members in 15 Centres overseas. 

Ernest became Pony Club Life Vice-President in 2000 and he was awarded an MBE in 2004 for services to horse riding. He was also President of the Euro Pony Club, which currently has 12 member nations.

Liz continued: “Everyone in Area 17 of The Pony Club was very proud of Ernest and held him in the greatest of respect. He will be sadly missed.”

Ernest is survived by his children Conor, Rose and Patrick, and their families. A book of condolence will be available at The Pony Club Conference on 05 March, and any messages emailed to vicky@pcuk.org will also be included from those unable to attend.



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