Yesterday, the Princess Royal celebrated the 43rd aniversery of the Carlisle branch of the Riding For the Disabled Association, (RDA). Her Royal Highness is national President of this organisation. Quite fitting perhaps, because she is an avid horsewoman herself and has a great love for these animals. Both she and her daughter, Zara, have competed professionally in equestrian events.
Princess Anne took time to chat with volunteers and young riders at Blackdyke Farm located north of the city. There were around 150 volunteers, schoolchildren and RDA sponsors who showed up to provide their support for the local branch. Among them were children from several schools in Carlisle who attend the riding sessions were onhand to show the Princess their riding skills. afterwards, the Princess presented each child and volunteer with a rosette before thanking them for their years of hard work.
“We’ve known about her visit for a while now but have had to keep quiet until the last month or so” said Catherine Smith, secretary of RDA Carlisle, who is also an instructor at the farm.
“It’s the first time she’s visited us in Carlisle and I think it gives everyone such a lift. It generates a lot more interest in the group.”
Ms. Smith has been involved with the carlisle RDA branch for the past eight years. She has this to say when discussing the branch’s range of riders: “Our youngest rider is five years old and our eldest is in her fifties, so it shows the wide range of people that we provide sessions for.”
One student who has been participating in riding sessions for the past seven months is Daniel Armstrong, a six-year-old boy living with autism from Denton Holme.
“It’s something that he absolutely loves doing,” said his very proud mum, Kerry.
“We heard about the work taking place here and were actually on a waiting list for a place for two years. Since he’s started riding we’ve noticed that his balance and strength has improved quite a lot. It’s also helping his co-ordination and when he’s riding he also remains very calm.”
Lesley Sutherland, is a teaching assistant at James Rennie School in Kingstown. She has been bringing children here for twenty years. She was personally thanked by the Princess for all her work with the organisation. “She just asked me if I enjoyed the work I do and whether the children enjoy coming here,” Lesley said. “I told them that I love what I do and that the children really enjoy riding.”
To commemorate her visit, the Princess Royal unveiled a plaque. She had this to say after handing out the rosettes. “I know you have given people a lot of chances and have supported the whole concept of RDA, not just here but across the country. Thank you very much indeed for the difference that you’ve made – some of it applies to individuals who have been able to make friendships. Thank you so much for your hard work.”