Craig Bunday, Peterborough Freemasons
In the Province of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire six charities were recipients of the awards, and the Peterborough & District Group for Riding for the Disabled (RDA) was one of them.
At the beginning of February, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, David Burton, went to visit the RDA at their Grasslands Equestrian Centre in Helpston to see how the money is being spent.
The Group in Peterborough was founded in 1966, is one of the oldest in the country and predates the birth of the Riding for the Disabled Association itself, which was in 1970.
It takes great pride in the exceptional standard of its coaches and volunteers.
RDA horses and ponies provide therapy, achievement and enjoyment to people with disabilities all over the UK with a network of some 500 volunteer groups organising activities such as riding, carriage driving, vaulting, show jumping and hippotherapy for up to 28,000 people with varying disabilities each year.
Each group is a charity in its own right and rely on donations and legacies to deliver their services.
“We were very grateful to the MCF for the grant of £4000 which enabled us to buy a new, larger mounting block to make getting ‘on board’ a lot easier and safer, together with some replacement saddlery equipment. Their funding also helped us to continue our weekly riding for up to 20 – 24 children,” explained Bella Craven from RDA.
“We recently expanded our riding sessions to include a 9am slot for children with severe physical disabilities in main stream education. We have two girls who are confined to a wheelchair. For them, riding brings them up to normal height and offers an independence and freedom they do not usually experience.
“The action of the horses walking simulates the rider’s hip movement, thus building up their strength and core stability. Effectively they are walking without weight bearing on the ground. Twenty minutes on a pony is very tiring but after a few sessions we start to see a change in stature and new found strength and balance.”
These sessions are an additional cost to the group and increased their costs from the usual £1,000 per term to around £1300. With the help of the MCF, they will now be able to fund these extra sessions for some time.
For more information about the charity, their website is www.peterborough-rda.co.uk