Wiltshire Groups

Saxon RDA Group Nativity 5/12/16

Wilton RDA rider wins National Award

Members of the local RDA Group are very excited at the success of one of their young members. Two years ago, Gabriela Machado-Hayden was so weak she was unable to sit unsupported on her mother’s knee.

Now, thanks to Hippotherapy from Wilton Riding for the Disabled Group, she has gained so much strength and confidence that despite being blind, she can walk with an adult holding her hand. And the six-year-old from Alderholt has won the award for the National charity’s Most Improved Rider of the Year. Her mother Janine said: “The results have been amazing. She is able to stand now for over three minutes. All the family are thrilled with this award.”

Gabriela, who suffers from Bilateral Microphthalmia, hypermobile joints and muscle weakness, was referred to the Wilton RDA Group by physiotherapists at Salisbury District Hospital in November last year. The specialist Hippotherapy Physiotherapist supporting the Wilton Group, Jenny Collings, has seen her weekly since then, and nominated her for the award. Jenny hopes that she will continue to progress, and learn general riding skills.

On September 30th the family will travel to London for a gala dinner where TV presenter Clare Balding will make the presentation.

Gabriela, who has a sister Olivia, is a pupil at Fordingbridge Infant School.


Kennet Valley Driving Group once again enjoyed a brilliant day out driving all three turnouts to Fyfield by kind invitation of David and V Hemery. Our route took us all through the Manton Estate on the Marlborough Downs on a lovely day, taking seven of our Disabled drivers and fourteen helpers.
Arriving at V's there was a splendid lunch laid out in the garden, the horses meanwhile enjoyed a good roll and a delicious green paddock, All too soon it was time to put to and load our passengers for the return trip, accompanied this way by V and her pair.

Everyone had a turn on the carriages, including our County Chairman Gillian Fallon taking the reins, hopefully that will encourage her to join us on our weekly drive!

All in all “a grand day out!”

Gillian Fallon with RDAW Cheryl Cook

Wilton Nativity Play December 2012


Wilton Royal Visit

When Princess Anne offers to come and present one with an award, one accepts graciously!

And indeed we were delighted to know that our National President would visit us on 17th September, to present to the Group the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The rather frantic preparation during August and September paid off, and by the time we heard the helicopter land in the park, all was in place.

Guests included our landlords, the Earl and Countess of Pembroke, civic dignitaries, Regional and County RDA Chairmen and many of our friends and sponsors, and they were joined by over 100 volunteers. Our guest of honour took central stage to watch some excellent riding displays, with lively commentary, before presenting rosettes to the riders. They all did splendidly, not showing any nerves, and the horses behaved too. The image of Julian saluting smartly whilst beaming smiles at everyone will stay with us for a long time.

But the focus of the day was to be on volunteers and their immeasurable contribution to what is achieved at the Pembroke Centre, and next Her Royal Highness was introduced to some of those who have taken on extra responsibilities, whether as Trustees, Fundraisers, Volunteer Coordinators, members of the horse Committee, or sandwich-makers! She insisted on chatting to everyone, and there were jokes and smiles all round.

Then, back in the centre of the arena, Carol received on behalf of the Group the Queen’s Award, a handsome piece of engraved crystal, and Mick Clarke accepted the certificate bearing the royal signature. Some special honours were presented next : The President’s Award to Sally Lefroy, for outstanding service to the Charity over thirty years, and 25-year Long Service Awards to our gardeners Jane Pope and Clare Eagle, who were already flushed with excitement at the thought of their new shed!

Princess Anne then cut a magnificent cake, made by volunteer Fiona Larkin, and every volunteer was invited to take home a commemorative mug … but not before they had enjoyed a well-earned glass of bubbly and a delicious snack lunch. It was wonderful to celebrate the Wilton Group’s achievement with such a memorable event; the Award will surely continue to inspire the incredible level of commitment this RDA Group enjoys from its volunteers.

Photography by Mr Richard Adams

Warminster Musical Ride

Warminster Group had their Musical Ride Competition recently, with Lucy McSweeney judging it.  The theme was Bob the Builder and as you can see from the attached photos, there was plenty of high-viz to get everybody in the mood! We were pleased with the routine too, which included walk and trot.


The Wilton Group RDA is delighted to announce that they are to be awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. This is known as ‘the MBE for volunteer groups’, and is a great honour, particularly in the Queen’s Jubilee year.

The process started last summer, when the Group was nominated by the parent of a rider and the application submitted. Nominations are first approved at County level, before going to the Cabinet Office for consideration nationally. This year, 112 organisations received the Award, and 4 of those are in Wiltshire, but there is only one RDA Group!

What does it mean for the Wilton Group? Well, apart from being a wonderful recognition of the benefits to disabled people locally resulting from the dedication of the volunteers, it is also a ringing endorsement of the fact that this large group (200 riders, 160 regular helpers, 17 horses) is managed totally by Trustees and other volunteers.

The Group will be presented with a certificate signed by the Queen, and a piece of commemorative crystal. They will be authorised to use the Award logo on any publicity material.

So thank you to our nominator, and well done the Wilton Volunteers – enjoy this well-deserved honour, and keep up the good work!

Brimble Hill Instructor gains national award

Wiltshire are very proud that Val Johnston , Brimble Hill Group, will receive the President’s Award  for 2012 and we send our congratulations and very best wishes.

Val Johnson has been a stalwart member of RDA for some 37 years. She continues to lead the Brimble Hill group from the front . She has been Chairman and an instructor since 1975. Val enthuses and encourages her young riders and has gathered an excellent team of helpers who she continues to inspire as well as the children. . The group are well represented at training days and conferences thanks to Val’s leadership.

Bob Walker, the recent headmaster of Brimble Hill School, remembers Val for her huge enthusiasm and commitment to these youngsters.


Supra-Regional conference a great success - Sarah Cornell writes...

Congratulations and huge thanks go to Lizzie Blair (mid west chairman), who organised an excellent Supra Conference at the Hand Centre last week.  It was good to see that six out of the ten groups in Wiltshire were well represented and judging by the emails etc everyone enjoyed the day very much.

Lizzie had put together a varied programme which all appreciated. It included:

Susie Elliott and Caroline Ward who talked about the power of publicity and PR.    It was most exciting to hear that RDA has been chosen for the Daily Telegraph Christmas Appeal.

Ros Blackburn gave us a very remarkable insight into autism.  All of our groups have people who suffer from this and we found it very helpful to hear about it first hand.

We wished Debbie Criddle well for next year as she heads for the Paralympics.   She gave a wonderful display for us. 

Countrywide Clay Pigeon Shoot

The county was well represented at the Countrywide Clay Pigeon Shoot in aid of RDA during the summer. The regional team enjoyed their day very much but were not winners, nor were the National Office team! Countrywide are generous supporters of RDA and put on a very happy day for everyone.

The team from left to right. Christopher Cornell - Gloucestershire, John Gerard Leigh, Mike Farquhar, Victor Beeching - Wiltshire, Bill Fernie - Avon

Wilton Fundraising

We did a street collection in Salisbury on August 20th, dressed as highwaymen ('stand and deliver' antics). We raised £974 on the day, in spite of torrential rain clearing the town of shoppers at 11.30am.  Highwayman Julia Kemp is pictured right.

We ran a quiz last year and the winner has written this year's. All questions have a horse theme (samples: Wig not on straight? Spicy styler?). It costs £2 and although the prize is a £25 voucher for a restaurant in Salisbury which might not appeal to members from other groups, it's worth £2 just for the entertainment (and frustration) of doing it.

Other fundraisers this year have been the fete, a sponsored ride and a race night.  We did a sponsored cycle ride in September with routes of 12, 50 and 100 miles.  Two of our supporters cycled from London to Paris which was quite a challenge, raising a lot of money for us.

For the 3rd year running we had a stall at the Country Gardens Harvest Festival weekend. This year we made 2 scarecrows for a naming competition. Yawning Yardley and Jet-powered Janet have now taken up residence in our hay barn!


 Our biggest fundraiser at the moment is our 'Going for Gold' World of Sport calendar (as we are not allowed to use the word olympic). We asked local schools to do an art competition, giving each school a different olympic sport to paint and saying they must get a horse in the picture somewhere, and asking them to raise money to enter. We had hundreds of pictures.

We selected 13 (including Jan 2013), then got 23 local businesses to advertise in the calendar. Funds from the schools and businneses totalled £2000 which covered the cost of printing 2000
We are now selling them for £4 each. They're bright and funny, have plenty of writing space and are really good quality. They're selling well so should bring in quite a few thousand pounds.



This event took place in RDA Centres and equestrian establishments all over the world on Wednesday 28th September, to raise awareness of the work of RDA, and to raise funds for local groups.
Our Wednesday riders rose to the challenge, collected sponsorship money and made decorated hat-bands to perform a designated dressage test as part of their lesson. 31 of our riders did this successfully, thanks to Claire and the Wednesday instructors, each receiving a rosette and certificate. The ponies as usual were stars, and didn’t even mind having their manes plaited with green and white ribbons!
We don’t know the international totals yet, but our riders raised nearly £400 for the Group. Congratulations and thanks to everyone who took part.

40th Anniversary Celebration

Wiltshire Groups  celebrated the 40th anniversary of RDA with a picnic outing at Longleat in May 2010 (without ponies!).  We had a lovely day, ideal weather.  The grounds were at their best.  Everyone enjoyed  rides on either the boat round the lake or on the  little  train before meeting up for a picnic lunch complete with balloons and birthday cake.


Website design by 16 Interactive