VOLUNTEER OF THE WEEK
Since retiring from the family-run pharmacy business six years ago Hilary Fox has used her knowledge of horses when she volunteers for two mornings a week at Gaddesden Place Riding for Disabled Group at Bridens Camp, near Hemel Hempstead. She and her husband Gerald have been members at Bedfordshire Progressive for nearly 30 years
Why Gaddesden? It all began 23 years ago with a much smaller Riding for the Disabled Association group, Chiltern District. While working in the family pharmacy I needed something to do on my days off, so the chance to use some of that “horsey knowledge” from years of messing about with horses in my youth, seemed the perfect answer. Helping out somehow morphed into being the group’s secretary and a trustee, then eventually our little group merged with Gaddesden Place, which is a much bigger concern. Here we have a dedicated centre that runs six days a week organising a large range of classes for children and adults who benefit from riding. A typical rider will need one person leading the horse or pony, and two “side helpers”, so it is quite labour intensive. The camaraderie from fellow helpers is great, and our riders are all lovely people.
What does your current volunteering involve? The day starts with grooming and saddling up, or setting up the “props” in the Indoor school. Anyone less inclined to be near the horses might prefer fitting the children with their hats and boots. There is always something to do. All the volunteers receive training, and a friendlier place you would be hard pressed to find.
Do you volunteer elsewhere? I also help in the kitchen at Noah, a welfare centre in Luton, on the last Friday of the month. About 60 meals are provided for the homeless. I went along one Christmas with Gerald to help out, and it went on from there.
What is your most memorable volunteering moment? This is a tricky one. There have been many moments, like when a blind and deaf child laughs as they ride bareback, loving the feeling of the furry warm animal beneath them for the first time. Then in 2001 my husband Gerald joined me raising near on £8,000 for Chiltern RDA riding 150 kilometres up and down 6,000 ft of mountainous terrain in the Gredos Mountains, east of