Young Drivers Awards


The BDS offers a great array of schemes and awards for young drivers


BDS Young Driver Awards

The BDS offers a great array of schemes and awards for young drivers. All are free to enter and eligible to any member on the age categories. There are enjoyable competitions and activities to enter in each monthly newsletter, which is emailed out to young drivers, but also national awards.

Details of these exciting national awards are explained individually in this section. They are the David Snowdon Awards, The Ian Townsend Portfolio Competition and the Brian Sims Scholarship.

As always the society aims to encourage young drivers to participate. You don’t even need your own turnout to take part in any of these big competitions! The Commissioners are very happy to help with any queries you might have after reading the detailed information about each award.

BDS National Young Driver Awards

David Snowdon Awards Points winner Jack Kedward , pictured with a pair, enjoyed lots of BDS activities with rallies, showing, trec, training days and camp. Why not send for your record card and start filling it in!

David Snowdon Award

The Ian Townsend Portfolio Competition

Young drivers are encouraged to keep a driving journal so why not enter the national competition?

Every year young drivers are invited to submit a portfolio to the Ian Townsend Portfolio competition and the winners are presented with a magnificent perpetual trophy. Both winner and Runner up rosette receive fabulous ruffle rosettes and feature in the carriage driving press. There are two age groups : 14 years and under, and 15 -18 years.

BDS Portfolio Advert
BDS Piper Thomas

Winner of the younger group Piper Thomas,10, says:

“Last year I started a portfolio and entered it in the Ian Townsend portfolio award. I’m thrilled to have come first in the 10 to 14yrs section! I love writing so it was fun to do the portfolio. I really enjoyed writing the section about my horse Flint, because he is such a character and I have quite a close bond with him. It was very interesting looking up about all the different British horse breeds and I think I have learnt a lot. I think writing my portfolio has made me more aware of what I am doing with my horse, what I need to improve and do more of.”   

What to put in your presentation..

Portfolios are your own creation and you can enjoy presenting them with photographs, drawings and in your own individual way. Of course they will be returned to you for you and your family to treasure. They can be produced on a computer and printed off to send or handwritten, with photos and drawings stuck neatly in. Whatever method it is up to you, just be sure it is well presented so it can be easily read. An index or contents page and clear sections is helpful.

You can include all of your driving activities, tell us about your pony and how you look after it, what you would like to try in driving and your aims for the future. You might like to include areas that interest you related to driving – for example looking at types of vehicles, traditions, aspects of presentation such as for a showing class or trec event.

There are so many interesting facts you could have fun finding out and could include. For example, did you know that Dalmatians were favourite carriage dogs for coachmen? Not only are they attractive and able to run with the carriage for long distances but they were considered excellent guard dogs too. At night when the coach was stopped over at an inn the Dalmatian would sleep under the carriage or in the stables with the horses. If a thief tried to approach he would be terrified to spot what he thought was a moving skull! This was the effect in the dim light the black and white markings of the Dalmatian’s face.

BDS Coaching Class
BDS Wales Show

The BDS Brian Sims Scholarship

Scholarship Day 2020 was cancelled, due to Covid 19

The 2021 Brian Sims Scholarship is running totally ONLINE which means it’s accessible to everyone aged 10-17 inclusive –  wherever you live in the UK.
Exciting activities with the use of multimedia – don’t miss out!

Every year all the young drivers in the BDS have the most amazing opportunity- the chance to win a bursary to be used towards training. 

The day is designed to be very enjoyable with interesting activities including driving at least one safe turnout that the BDS provide. Details of what is involved can be found below.

About the Scholarship

The BDS scholarship has been running for many years and is currently sponsored by the generous legacy of Brian Sims. Brian was a keen carriage driver from Dorset who worked with young people throughout his life as a popular deputy headmaster. His legacy continues to make a real difference to aspiring youngsters and we hope you will take part!

Age is taken into account when awarding the scholarship along with enthusiasm and a genuine desire to learn more about carriage driving skills and traditions.

There is also the Barbara Stoddart perpetual trophy for the Best Driver from among all the candidates who is using traditional rein handling .

Previous scholarship winner Rachel Cottee doesn’t have her own turnout and would love to encourage you to have a go. “I hope that other young drivers will feel encouraged to have a try at the scholarship this year – you never know what you can achieve unless you try. Good luck to everyone!

Learning to drive

Rachel spent her bursary with three amazing action filled days training with Mark Broadbent at the Fenix Carriage Centre and drove singles, pair, tandem and team!

The winners for 2019 were Eve Watton (15-17 years) and Harriet McEntee (14years and under) and the Best Driver trophy was won by Llewelyn Chapman.

Who can take part?

Any BDS member aged between 8 and 18. 

How do you enter?

If you are keen to take part it is easy and free to enter. Contact the main BDS office for application forms.

If you have any queries don’t hesitate to contact the Commissioner for Young Drivers – Emily – who is very happy to help and explain things to you individually.

How can you prepare?

The activities in the monthly newsletter, at training days and camps and through teaming up with a supporting BDS adult will all help you develop your skills and knowledge so you are more confident taking part. You might not be fortunate enough to have regular training with a carriage driving instructor but if you are keen and willing to learn you are ideally suited to put yourself forward.

There is also a wealth of information on line and in books. Remember too that the day itself is an enjoyable learning experience and if you don’t win, you are able to re-enter in following years! By looking at the next sections you will find out more details about the scholarship day.

What the day involves

Typically you meet up together at the venue and there is a chance to get to know everyone and see the facilities. The commissioners are there to put you at ease and ensure you are happy with what to do and where to go. You are introduced to the assessors and helpers. Everyone wants you to enjoy the special day and it is a wonderful day of exciting activities!

Over the day you show you know how to harness up and put to safely. You drive at least one safe turnout demonstrating the English traditional style of rein handling.

Knowing about safety is important for you in all your driving activities – including handling the horse, what to wear, how to check a single harness and clean and assemble it. Also know how a carriage fits properly and is basically safe, along with how to balance a two wheeled carriage before driving off.

You will be able to show aspects of horse care with practical activities such as grooming, fitting and adjusting harness, picking out a hoof, basic stable management and the needs of the horse and care after driving.

You also have the opportunity to look at actual carriages and items of harness from the traditional carriage house and talk about what you know and ask pertinent questions.

You are able to show photos and talk about your driving activities and talk about your interests in driving as well as your aims for the future. 

Put like this it might sound a lot! It’s all interesting to find out about and much of it you will already have learnt. Don’t be put off! Have a go!

What are the assessors looking for?

As stated above, the bursary is intended to help keen young drivers progress rather simply reward those who already know a great deal but don’t show a passion going forward. They are looking for attention to detail and enthusiasm. A willingness to listen and learn and ask questions is key. They are looking for a genuine enthusiasm and part of this will be the willingness of the winner to give feedback on how they spend the bursary – so that in turn others are enthused by the opportunities the scholarship offers.

“The examiners were all friendly and professional, but put us at our ease so that it wasn’t a scary day. I do not have my own turnout, but have determination to do well in this wonderful sport, and so was surprised and honoured to win” Rachel, winner in 2018.


Everyone who takes part receives a very special commemorative rosette on the day. The winners are announced on the day but are usually presented with their trophies and winners rosettes at a significant carriage driving occasion, such as the evening performance of National BDS championships at Addington, and feature in the yearbook and wider carriage driving press.

BDS Junior drivers results

The David Snowdon Awards

There is also an additional award which the society is very grateful to The Snowdon Family for organising and sponsoring:

This is something that every single young driver can take part in. There is no need to have your own turnout, no need to qualify and no requirement to attend a specific event or venue. It’s so simple! Each year you can enter your BDS activities on a record card which the organiser signs and in February of the following year send the card in to be awarded points. The winner receives a lovely horse head plaque to keep along, with a magnificent rosette. Every one taking part receives a special certificate of achievement.

The BDS is very grateful to John and Eileen Snowdon who run this competition every year in memory of their son David. David was a very enthusiastic and talented young driver who tragically died of cystic fibrosis aged just 15. The award is a wonderful tribute to his life and one that recognises the involvement and enthusiasm of our many young drivers.

Go on take part this year! Send off for your record card and keep filling it in.

For details of this brilliant award please click on one of the buttons below

BDS David snowdon award
BDS Amelia Ralls
British Driving Society

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