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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

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