Jack was very kind, very generous, but tough. If you were feeling down or out or worried about something, his attitude was go and do something about it.”

Listening to Patricia Dodd chatting about her son Jack, it’s very easy to grasp the kind of person he was. An international showjumper, Jack was part of FEI Young Riders Academy 2016, he was a grafter with admirable self-belief and was cherished by friends and family; Jack was only ever a phone call away.

From Foxford, Co Mayo, Jack set up his own stables in Belgium in September 2017. Less than a year later, his loved ones and the wider showjumping community were left heartbroken when he passed away in June 2018 at the age of 25 after he was involved in a car accident.

Pictured international showjumper Jack Dodd.

Patricia and her husband David now manage Jack’s showjumping business and alongside two of Jack’s friends, they launched the Jack Dodd Foundation in December 2018. The foundation aims to provide assistance and relief to injured riders and their families through a fund, grow an online community resource network providing professional and personal assistance, and will give back to three charities that are close to their heart, including the Irish Kidney Association. After his passing, Jack’s family made the decision to donate his organs, which resulted in three successful transplants.

“Jack was born into horses. I bought his first pony when I was pregnant with him. He started off in pony club and then under-eight and under-10 competitions started in our area.

“There was a little bunch of them including Richard Howley and Cormac Hanley, they all went on and did so well. They were great friends but they were very competitive; from the beginning it was foot to the floor going in against the clock.”

Mind made

“I remember saying to Jack, ‘You could go to college, get a great job and you would be able to buy your own horses’. He replied, ‘Oh you don’t think I’m good enough’, and I thought, ‘I’m never saying that to him again’! He was about 14.

“I was still trying to get him to open his mind to other possibilities. He said he would do transition year but he wanted to go away as part of that year.

“The summer of transition year he went to Shane Breen in Hickstead for a month and he never came back until the following September for school.

Pictured Andrea Draculic, Patricia Dodd, David Dodd and Denise Wilson at the Irish Sport Horse Industry Awards.

“The following summer he trained with Cian O’Connor for a week (through the Young Riders Bursary). He was getting into the lorry to go and said, ‘Now don’t be surprised if Cian asks me to go work for him’.

“He came home after the week and I said, ‘You’re back, I thought you would be working for Cian’. By tea time the following day, Cian had phoned asking if he wanted to work with him for the summer.”

Jack Dodd Stables

“Jack was with Bertram (Allen) in Germany before Belgium. When he left Bertram’s he went to Jos Lansink, then went out on his own.

“Since Jack’s passing, the horses that are based in Belgium are based in other yards out there. A lot of the horses Jack would have owned were in partnership with other European people. Jack’s business is an Irish registered company, so we’re able to work it from Mayo.”

Jack Dodd Foundation

“In the hospital and throughout the funeral his friends were saying the same thing, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do because if I ever had a problem, Jack was at the end of the phone’. That’s really how the foundation came about, then it took on a life of its own.

“We decided that we would continue to be at the end of the phone, so if you need help, pick up the phone. I’m not just talking about having an accident, but if someone wanted to know how to get into a certain show or if they need an accountant.

Sometimes people don’t realise that riders are athletes

"Jack went through the mill setting up and he worked in different countries, he knew the set-up and was the go to voice.

“The database (online community resource network) will be an educational help for riders whether it be in regards to their business or lifestyle. Sometimes people don’t realise that riders are athletes; they need to look after their bodies and brains. We have a list of contacts that will be invaluable. It will have rehabilitation centres in the different countries, occupational therapists, business coaches, marketing experts and more.”

Giving back

“The Showjumpers Club have been very supportive and the three charities we support are the Showjumpers Club Injured Riders’ Fund, the Brain Battle Fund (Maastricht) and the Irish Kidney Association, which runs the donor process.

“Twenty-five per cent of all monies raised will be divided between them, the rest of the money is held in a fund. There will be a form on the website if someone wants to apply for financial help. There is merchandise available on the website; jackets and a jewellery line with the JD logo, that’s a big part of the fundraising.

“The foundation is registered in Holland because even though Jack’s Irish, there are so many riders abroad. There are four involved; myself and David, Andrea Drakulic and Denise Wilson. They were close friends of Jack and the foundation is their brainchild.”

Keep going

“It’s our way of coping. It would be so easy to give up because it’s the end of your world but because of the type of person Jack was, he would always be saying: ‘Keep going’.

The foundation is keeping Jack’s legacy alive

“When you have bad days you can nearly hear him telling you to keep going and make it something good. A lot of it would be influenced by the thought: ‘What would Jack do?’

“The foundation is keeping Jack’s legacy alive, making sure that no matter how alone or worried that anyone is within the sport, that there is a voice at the end of the phone who will be able to help.”

Follow Jack Dodd Foundation at:

• Website: www.jackdoddfoundation.org

• Facebook: www.facebook.com/jackdoddfoundation

• Instagram: Jack Dodd Foundation

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