The Dopey Challenge

Jeannine Williamson and her horse bruno
Jeannine Williamson and her horse bruno

Eastbourne rider Jeannine Williamson is embarking on the first ever Dopey Challenge at Florida’s Walt Disney World to fundraise and mark the 80th anniversary of the Brooke Hospital.

In the New Year she will run 5k and 10k races and a half marathon followed by a full marathon over four days – 48.6 miles in total - in aid of the charity that helps working equines in some of the world’s poorest countries.

More than 26,000 runners will take place in the various individual events and there will be around 6,000 in the inaugural Dopey Challenge from January 9-12.

In recent years she has completed various marathons and Brooke fundraising horse treks in Egypt, Jordan, India, Mongolia and Iceland, and earlier this year she was named Eastbourne Resident of the month after raising more than £23,000 for the charity. She says this will be her toughest challenge to date.

“I wanted to do something big to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Brooke and centenary of the First World War,” said Jeannine.

“The Brooke was originally set up to help war horses that had been abandoned in Egypt after the war and my grandfather, who was killed in the war at the age of 32, was a cavalry officer, so it’s a cause that’s close to my heart.

“I started training at the beginning of October and it has gone well so far.

Whilst I have never run this far before I am really looking forward to the event.”

All the money she raises will go to the charity that improves the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The Brooke provides veterinary care and advice and education to owners who often rely on a working animal for their entire family income.

“I have seen the work of the charity first hand in Egypt, Jordan and India and the desperately harsh conditions that the animals and their owners have to endure day in and day out,” she said.

“In places such as India’s brick kilns The Brooke has improved conditions immeasurably and any donations, however small, will go an extremely long way.”

Anyone who would like to support her marathon fundraising can call her on 641078, email or donate online at

Jeannine is no stranger to fundraising in recent years.

Last January she took part in a marathon and a half at Florida’s Walt Disney World to raise money for the Brooke Hospital.

In the New Year she ran a half marathon followed by a full marathon the following day in aid of the charity.

She has also run the London Marathon for the charity, which was set up by Dorothy Brooke who was actively interested in animal welfare all her life, especially where horses were involved. She became dedicated to the welfare of Egypt’s working horses and donkeys.