Coast to Coast Walk
In June this year Liz Rothera undertook the challenge of the coast-to-coast walk to raise funds for the North Region of RDA and met up with members of local groups on her way.
Liz chose to walk for RDA because her stepmum Pauline Harrison (Joint Chair for RDA North Region) has talked to her family about her work for many years. She said that doing the walk felt like a wonderful opportunity to support her stepmum whilst challenging herself and giving herself time to think about the future (following a big birthday!).
Liz said “The walk is like a pilgrimage for me. I like the traditional idea of picking up a pebble at St Bees (the start) and throwing it into the sea at Robin Hood’s Bay (the finish).”
On the day when Liz was walking to Orton from her overnight stop in Shap, she was met by members of the Westmorland Group who accompanied her on the bridleway route across the moor above Oddendale.
The photographs show Liz with Jenny, Rebecca and Faith accompanied by ponies Monty and Jack (and hardy bike!).
Liz is hoping to raise £4,000 through her Just Giving page which remains open until the end of July 2021, ie this weekend!.
With many of the usual events we enjoy attending unavailable this year, the group decided to hold a Christmas Quiz to raise funds. Several of our group members and helpers distributed the quiz sheets, as well as local shops helping to sell them, and we raised a brilliant £262.05!
One very clever entrant won the 1st prize, a luxury hamper with items donated by our kind sponsors, getting all 50 questions correct! He was closely followed by a local family who got an equally impressive 49/50 correct answers, winning a £10 Gift Voucher for Wynnstay Country Store.
Thank you to all who took part and to our kind sponsors, Asda, Morrison’s, Booths, George Romneys, Lakeland Artisan, Wynnstay, and MTP Media.
Volunteer service awards
A presentation of volunteer awards was made at our virtual AGM on 21 October 2020. The service certificates were posted to the recipients:
1 year: Clare Cookson, Sarah Hacker, Liz Johnson, Rosie Jones, Chloe Marshall, Adele Rice, Valerie Noon, Barbara Maudsley
5 years: Maarit Hill, Ann Bryan, Lisa Sixsmith, Josie Sanderson
15 years: Carole Spry, Jean Dickie
30 years: Barbara Shooter. A framed certificate was later presented to Barbara in person.
Many congratulations and thanks to all of them.
At the height of the covid 19 lockdown, Carolyn Holden, our inspired Group Organiser, arranged a series of competitions and quizzes to keep us entertained and occupied.
Her first was the photographic and drawing competition and a new challenge was given to us every two weeks or so. Judging was carried out on-line by committee members and virtual rosettes awarded to the winners and runners-up in each category. Those who achieved first place received a red rosette.
1st place winners in the Photographic and Drawing competition:
Favourite pet or toy: ‘Alfie enjoying a story’ by Liz Addy
Favourite things to do: ‘Chatting with my friend’ by Liz Addy
Beautiful flowers: ‘My garden’ by Jan Mitchell
Best Day at the Seaside: ‘You can’t beat a donkey ride’ by Liz Addy
People or Places I have known: ‘Hartpury’ by Cathy Broomfield
From this select group the overall winner was unanimously judged to be Sophia van Alphen, our young rider, with her remarkable ‘Firebird’ drawing.Quizzes
Two quizzes added variety to the competitions and centred on questions relating to:
Equine knowledge, including tools and equipment, or even identifying our RDA ponies from photos of their noses!
RDA knowledge, a bit more insider knowhow to be gleaned from the National Office web site
Local interest, including identifying places from photographs and the meaning of dialect words
General knowledge, covering all manner of snippets from around the world!
Monty, our carriage driving pony enjoying his Summer holiday
First ride, new saddles
On Monday, 16 March 2020, We held our first afternoon ride of the year at Holmescales Riding Centre. Due to increasing concerns about coronavirus there were fewer riders than normal and non at all from Sandgate School. However, the children who did arrive enjoyed themselves and were the first to try out our new saddles.
These saddles were sourced by Carole, who also organised the fitting for each individual pony They should be more comfortable than our old saddles for pony and rider. We hope it will not be too long before we are able to use them again.
‘The Seahorses’ swam again this year at the Rotary Club Annual Swimathon held in the Kendal Leisure Centre on 14 th March 2020. Swimmers were Karen Barnes and her friend Vanessa, driver Lauren Mackereth and her friend Martyn, and me. Angie Fordham was planning to swim but was unfortunately unwell so had to miss out, but still managed to raise donations for the group! Well done Angie.
Big thanks to Karen who was awarded the prize for the highest sponsorship total recorded on the night, at nearly £200 raised, and was awarded a one-month swim & gym voucher.
Altogether the team swam 87 lengths of the pool in the 55 minutes allowed. With some additional donations which we have each collected after the event, the full total is now £750.
Kendal Unitarian Reform Church coffee morning
On a sunny Saturday morning in February, the Kendal Unitarian Reform Church generously held a coffee morning in support of RDA Westmorland Group at the Abbot Hall Social Centre. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed as people enjoyed their tea, coffee, biscuits and a good chat. There was also an array of delicious-looking homemade cakes for sale, courtesy of the hard-working bakers in the Church. I can vouch personally for the large fruit scones – mmm!
The coffee morning raised £200, for which Westmorland RDA is very grateful. Thank you so much to everybody involved with the event and thank you, too, for thinking of us.
Christmas tree festival
December saw the annual Charity Christmas Tree Festival at Kendal Parish Church which the group took part in – the theme this year was ‘Favourite Book’. The riders from Homescales and drivers from Bleasdale School drew and coloured decorations for the RDA tree, representing their own favourite books. We had books about tigers, penguins, dinosaurs, and Frozen, among many more – David Walliams was also a popular choice! The tree looked lovely, covered in the colourful decorations along with the many glittery horse decorations the group have previously made. Visitors to the Christmas Tree Festival donated to their favourite trees, and we were very pleased to receive £107.40 in donations.
Last rideOn 2 December 2019 we held our last ride of the year. Afterwards our young riders received photographs of themselves with their RDA 50th anniversary gold rosettes. There were sweets for all donated by children and parents, and tea and cake for our volunteers.
In September 2019, our group enjoyed a successful day at the Westmorland County Show. For the past couple of years the RDA stall has been situated in the Countryside Tent, and we returned again this year to share information with the public about our activities. Despite the wet weather (and the mud!!!) the stall had lots of visitors who came to see the photos on display of the riders, drivers and ponies in action, and to talk to our helpers.
Several groups of school children and some game adults enjoyed guessing the names of the different horsey items we brought along (brushes, bits and feeds) and having a go at holding the reins of our trusted demonstration horse ‘Woody’. There were lots of enquiries from interested people, and we hope that we may see some of them coming along to join us as helpers in the future.
Visitors to our Driving Group
On the 1st August 2019 a delegation of Royal Arch Freemasons from Flowerden Chapter in the Province of Cumberland & Westmorland met members of the Westmorland Riding for the Disabled Carriage Driving Group at the Westmorland Agricultural Society Showfield, Crooklands.
Earlier this year a cheque for £500 was awarded to the RDA Westmorland Group by Flowerden Chapter and the meeting was the first opportunity for the two Groups to meet and gain an understanding about each other’s charitable works. The visitors very much enjoyed their visit and the opportunity to see at first-hand the benefits of such donations and the excellent results achieved for its recipients and beneficiaries.
Following the visit Brian Ferrington, South Westmorland Group Communication’s Officer and member of Flowerden Chapter said “It was wonderful to watch the joy and excitement on the driver’s faces as they were being put through their paces under the watchful eye and guidance of the RDA carriage driving instructor Jenny Harris.”
Brian also submitted a report to the Westmorland Gazette and on the online news website, Cumbria Crack for publication.
Summer Riding Awards
On 1 July 2019 we held our final Summer ride at Holmescales. After games of musical buckets followed by races, our young riders were presented with their awards and prizes. Our lovely Lucy is leaving us because she starts a new school in September. She received a special gold rosette, which marks 50 years of RDA. We will miss her and wish her well. At the end of the last ride we enjoyed delicious cake and biscuits made by some of the children. Lucy’s coffee cake was a great success.
National Training Centre Opening
In 2017 Sam Orde, then RDA National Chairman, undertook a fundraising ‘Big Ride’ challenge, completing rides or carriage drives throughout the UK with other RDA members and supporters. We were fortunate to host a ride and drive in Westmorland and were inspired by Sam’s aim to fundraise for the new National Training Project to create a facility to train and inspire RDA for the future! We felt it was important to show our support for this project and a donation from the Westmorland Group was pledged.
Fast forward to June 2019. Jan and Annette and I attended the official opening of the RDA National Training Centre at Lowlands Equestrian Centre in Warwickshire, in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal, to represent the Westmorland Group.
The Training Centre will provide a first class riding facility, with future plans for Carriage Driving. It will also develop training programmes for Coaches and Volunteers. The main building incorporates training and conference facilities – in particular the ‘Westmorland Room’, named in recognition of our donation. This is where the three of us stood to be presented to HRH The Princess Royal! It was one of my proudest moments as a member of the Westmorland Group. We provided an image to connect the room with our Group. What better than that of Nicola’s Fell Ponies grazing on the Helm. We are incredibly grateful to Nicola’s friend, photographer Emma Campbell, for providing the perfect image.
This new facility will enable the next generation of Riders, Drivers, Coaches and Volunteers to be inspired by the opportunities for RDA long into the future.
Cathy Broomfield, Chair