Riding club marks 50-year milestone
Activity packed day is part of the celebrations
One of the oldest Riding for the Disabled Association groups in the country marked 50 years of service to the local community with an activity-packed day of celebrations recently.
Guest of honour, Deputy Lieutenant Major Charles Dunphie, joined volunteers, riders and their families at Blairgowrie Riding for the Disabled’s Easter Rattray yard to celebrate their golden jubilee.
It was a proud moment for the group, which offers lessons for disabled children and adults throughout Blairgowrie and the surrounding areas, and the culmination of a year of special events.
Major Dunphie enjoyed a fun demonstration of horse riding by three riders, Isla and Skye Cumming and Daniel Ryder, before presenting them with rosettes to mark the jubilee.
A highlight of the visit was a presentation to Erin, the group’s oldest pony, with a well-deserved longservice award.
And there were celebrations too for three volunteers from other RDA groups, who were presented with awards on behalf of the charity’s president, The Princess Royal.
Guests then enjoyed refreshments, including a special 50th anniversary cake, and an opportunity to meet the ponies and chat with volunteers about the charity’s work.
Rhona Christie, chair of Blairgowrie RDA, said: “It was a wonderful way to acknowledge this very special occasion in our group’s long history.
“We are very proud to be one of the longestrunning
Riding for the Disabled groups and our success is very much down to the hard work of our volunteers and committee, the many enthusiastic riders we have welcomed and, of course, the incredible support we have received over many years from the local community.
“We have some exciting plans for Blairgowrie RDA, including introducing new sessions called Tea with a Pony, where elderly people and those suffering from dementia can come and meet our ponies and enjoy tea and cakes, so as we celebrate our first 50 years, we are very much looking forward to the next 50.”
Unfortunately, there was an extremely sad end to the golden jubilee year for the group, as just one week after the 50th anniversary visit, they suffered the devastating loss of one of their much-loved horses, Claire, to sudden illness.
Rhona said: “We are all absolutely heartbroken at losing Claire.
“She was a firm favourite with all our volunteers
and riders, a real gentle giant whose calm demeanour and loving nature made her a perfect fit for the group.
“Our ponies are at the heart of all our activities and to lose such a beautiful horse has been extremely difficult for us all.
“We were already on the lookout for another pony to join our close-knit herd, which makes Claire’s loss all the more devastating.
“She will be very sorely missed.”
If you would like to know more about Blairgowrie Riding for the Disabled, or are interested in volunteering or riding, visit the website www. blairgowrierda.co.uk.