Last Saturday, in a picturesque field in Perthshire, the St Andrews Polo Society held their annual tournament amidst champagne, cigars, and, perhaps somewhat expectedly, rain. Perhaps the most summery of the Spring term’s events, the Polo tournament allowed students a brief moment of pause before revision weeks begin, in an event that proved Scotland’s residents will dress up whatever the weather. Garden party attire was encouraged, though with the proviso that “all weather is a possibility”, and students did their best to fulfil expectation: bright colours bedecked Errol Park’s grounds, that switched to umbrellas when the heavens (as is custom) opened in late April.
With ticket levels ranging from Classic all the way up to VVIP, the committee provided a level of access unparalleled within other student-run events. The opportunity gifted for Classic ticket-holders was the exact same as with the higher levels (bar a few drinks tokens and free sandwiches): that being the lovely rolling fields of the Errol Park Estate, bus travel there and back, and the opportunity to watch an afternoon of chukkas. The largest polo event in Scotland, and manned by the Polo committee and team who regularly host chukkas out on West Sands, this year’s event managed to corral hundreds and hundreds of guests out into Perthshire. However, as can be expected with an event of this magnitude, the buses proved an issue: from problems with guest pick-up at Younger Hall and Madras on the way there, to an hour of queuing in the pouring rain for attendees leaving the event.
While the polo escaped the definition of myself and many of my friends (football? Except on horses?), and despite what the hundreds of ‘Old Town Road’-captioned instagrams might attest, the sport proved the focal point of the event. With teams from St Andrews, Warwick, Edinburgh, and as far as Harvard all playing, the afternoon’s festivities continued to draw crowds of not only St Andrews students, but corporate sponsors and students from further afield, like Dundee and Aberdeen. The sponsorship list for the event is longer than my arm, but with heavyweights like FIXR and Glenfiddich whisky the committee was in good stead to continue their work raising money for their charity: Help for Heroes.
The nominated charity for the last five years, the St Andrews Charity Polo Tournament has raised over £36,000 for Help for Heroes, a charity providing “life-changing rehabilitation to former servicemen and women, as well as their families”. Having aided over 21,000 British veterans, Help for Heroes does crucial work helping personnel and their families: and the £36,000 total doesn’t even begin to include the total from this year’s event and the Polo committee’s fundraising efforts.
This year’s polo continued in the tradition of a fun afternoon out towards Perth, with hundreds of bottles of champagne and equestrian games out on the field. The committee involved the crowds with the traditional divot stomping, but was conscientious of waste and implored any and all bottles of champagne to be recycled — to leave the beautiful grounds of Errol untouched by an all-round impressively handled event proves a success for both the Polo committee and the team.
Photos provided courtesy of Sean Gordon Photography. https://www.facebook.com/seanGordonPhotography/