Christmas Tree Festival
Kendal Parish Church kindly hosted its 6th Christmas Tree Festival, where 40 local charities and organisations were allocated a handsome tree to decorate in their own style. The church looked beautiful and held a series of concerts, which encouraged people to come inside and donate.
The theme was ‘fairy tales’. Since not many feature horses and ponies, we stretched a point and chose ‘Black Beauty’ for our tree. The children were given wooden horses to decorate and, unsurprisingly, displayed an extremely liberal interpretation of ‘Black’. There were lots of sparkles and even a unicorn with feathered wings courtesy of James.
The Festival raised £4,500 overall, and our tree raised £90.47 for RDA Westmorland Group.
On 20 November, members of the Heversham Lodge of the Freemasons visited one of our afternoon riding sessions at Holmescales Equestrian Centre and presented Westmorland RDA Group with a very generous cheque for £1,000.
Presenting the cheque to our President, Jan Mitchell, is Keith Bolton, Immediate Past Master, together with Roger Whitaker, Bill Douthwaite, John Martin and Alan White. We thank Brian Ferrington for the picture.
We are very grateful to the Heversham Lodge for their kind generosity.
The Soroptimists International, Windermere Branch held an Equine Evening in July, kindly hosted by Jane Peat, and featuring a demonstration of side saddle riding. Barbara and Rachel dressed in Show and Edwardian attire, and their two lovely horses gave us a fine display. The Compère was Carolyn Bateson who talked us through the different disciplines required for side saddle riding.
£1071.00 was raised by raffle, tombola, sales of goods, refreshments and donations. In October, members of the Windermere Soroptimists visited an RDA riding session at Holmescales Equestrian Centre and their President, Pat Sanderson, presented the cheque to our President, Jan Mitchell. We thank the Soroptimists for their kind generosity and everyone involved in the event.
Rotary Club donation
On 17 October 2017, our Westmorland RDA Chair, Cathy Broomfield, attended a meeting of the Rotary Club of Kendal South Westmorland on their kind invitation, where they presented Cathy with a cheque for £1,000 for our RDA group.
This was in lieu of fundraising completed in the last 12 months under the recently retired President, Phil Bell. Great thanks are due to the Rotary Club for their kind generousity.
Pictured, left to right, are the new President Mike Trelogan, retiring President Phil Bell and Cathy.
Success at Hartpury
The RDA National Championships took place on 14-17 July 2017 at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire.
The driving competitions were held on the Friday. There were three classes – Novice, Intermediate and Open. Our own Faith Billington won the Intermediate Class driving a Welsh Section C pony, Maesbrithdir Sparkling Jewel (aka Sweet Pea), kindly loaned by Margaret Brockie MBE, Chairman of the RDA Carriage Driving Committee. The competition has three sections: dressage, cones course and obstacles. The rosettes and trophies were presented by Mrs Sam Orde, Chairman of RDA. Congratulations to Faith.
What a wonderful day we had at the Countryside Challenge. On 25 May 2017 the sun was shining over the beautiful Blencathra valley. Our pony Bruno was chomping at the bit to get going and continued to chomp at some of the delicious bushes on the course!
First to go was Lucy who steered and smiled her way around the obstacles calmly but with determination, remembering the course well and achieving third place in her class.
Will went next urging the pony on to an active walk, stopping him from eating and successfully completing the course. A big grin greeting his supporters at the end and earning him fourth place.
Craig was last to go and it was worth the wait. Keeping the pony moving through the obstacles Craig constantly talked to Bruno and together they completed the course, achieving a special award and appreciating the cheers at the end with a big smile. We certainly were the loudest group!
A memorable day was had by all, everyone was bursting with pride. The weather had been a very hot 28 degrees and by the end we were wearing faces to match our team outfit – red polo shirts!
Thank you to the riders and their families for taking part, Annette for organising the outing, Evelyn for mounting and overseeing the team, Barbara for leading so skillfully, Marjorie for sorting out the team outfit, all our volunteers who came to support, and of course Bruno for carrying our riders to success.
We are very proud. Well done team Westmorland, cant wait for next year.
On the Monday afternoon ride, 24 April 2017, our lovely Lucy presented us with a VERY LARGE cheque. Close friends of the family had a party to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary. During a speech they told friends and family about how Lucy had benefited from her sessions with RDA, and raised £100 for Westmorland branch!
Huge thanks from us to all to Lucy, her family, their friends and the generous party goers.
Riding Group Training 2017
On 20 March, we began the year’s programme with a training afternoon for volunteers at the Strickland Arms. Our main speaker was Debbie Austin whose daughter, Lucy, is one of our riders. Debbie gave us insight into improving communication and adapting activities for people with learning disabilities, especially a severe learning disability like Lucy.
Debbie took us through the problems that our riders may have with understanding and following verbal instructions. She explained how key words and simple sentences were important as well as visual aids, wherever possible. We learnt that consistent repetition of routines using easy cues is very important, as well as giving time for the rider to assimilate instructions. As vocabulary may be limited, using exactly the same words as well visual clues will all be helpful.
Debbie also emphasised that questions are much more stressful and difficult than making a comment. Saying ‘lovely to see you’ is better than ‘how are you?’ Choices are easier than open ended questions, eg ‘which beanbag, red or blue?’ rather than ‘what colour beanbag?’
From Debbie’s experience of young children with disabilities as well as with Lucy, she encouraged us to try singing and rhymes to achieve required actions, for example, ‘If you’re happy and you know it stop your horse: 1-2-3 whoa!’. A lovely idea, although some of us felt that the riders may not appreciate our [lack of] singing voices!
We all learnt a great deal from Debbie’s excellent insight into the difficult world of children with disabilities and we hope to use the information to improve our Monday sessions. Thank you Debbie.
We then had an update on our ‘Safeguarding procedures’ from Marjorie Parsons, our Safeguarding and Child Welfare Officer. It is important that we keep everyone up to date with the latest advice keeping our riders protected from harm.
Evelyn Gavin-Stott gave our final talk in her role as Group physiotherapist. She explained the benefits of riding for posture, core strength and balance as well as the boost to confidence and the sheer enjoyment of the activity. We are lucky to have an experienced physiotherapist in our Group.
The floor was then open to questions about best practice at Monday sessions, chaired by Kathryn Keith, which led to lively debate.
Everyone enjoyed an excellent and informative afternoon.
If you feel that you would like to take part in a training session as a speaker, please do contact us. We would love to hear from you.
On Monday, 6 February 2017, a party of 14 volunteer helpers, a plucky husband and seven dogs of assorted sizes set off from Cartmel Racecourse for a country walk. Kathryn had cleverly organised dry weather and a delightful route through fields and woods which brought us back to Cartmel just in time for lunch at the Cavendish Arms. We were greeted by the smiling manager, Richard, and his team who seated us beside a roaring log fire.
When we are working with the children and ponies there is usually little time for chatting, so we made excellent use of this opportunity and learned a great deal more about each other. And we had fun, as did our canine companions.
We all agreed that we must do this again.