Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) groups around the UK are celebrating the charity’s 50th anniversary with events and celebrations throughout the first week of October.
The dates coincide with the official formation of RDA during the same week in 1969 and, throughout 2019, the charity has been using the anniversary to raise awareness of its work.
Highlights have already included a Parliamentary reception and a dedicated episode on BBC1’s Countryfile. The launch of Clare Balding’s new children’s book ‘The Racehorse who Learned to Dance’ which features a character who goes to RDA, has further boosted support for the charity.
Celebration Week, which runs from September 30 to October 6, is aimed at encouraging regional RDA groups to join the festivities. A special gold rosette has been produced to help groups celebrate in their own ways, with over 3000 sent out since the beginning of the year.
Ed Bracher, the Chief Executive of RDA, told ConnectSport: “Fifty years ago, the pioneers who started RDA set out the vision ‘that no disabled person, who could benefit from riding, should be denied the opportunity of doing so’.
“For the last 50 years, as well as providing meaningful therapy we have been challenging the way people view disability and, indeed, sometimes challenging what disabled people themselves think they can achieve.
“Through the changes we create – whether that’s therapeutic, an education goal, winning a competition or just having fun – we have enabled children and adults to come together with a horse so that something magical can happen.”
RDA is dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities through horse riding, carriage driving and hippotherapy. Through a network of around 500 volunteer groups throughout the UK, it provides opportunities for therapy, achievement and enjoyment, improving health, wellbeing and self-confidence, and benefiting mobility and co-ordination.
More than 25,000 adults and children enjoy the benefits of riding or carriage driving, and each year more than 19,000 dedicated volunteers give a total of more than 3.5million hours of their time to the charity.
RDA UK will also be holding its annual gala awards during the week. This year the evening welcomes regulars Clare Balding and Alastair Stewart, as well as newcomers motor racing legend Damon Hill; W Series’ British racing driver Alice Powell and jockey Bryony Frost.