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Gloucestershire Business News

Princess Anne celebrates RDA with Hartpury visit

HRH The Princess Royal joined Maisemore Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) volunteers, invited guests and Hartpury University and Hartpury College staff yesterday (November 16) to celebrate its 50th anniversary and mark 15 years at Hartpury Equine.

Operating from the equine centre at Hartpury University and Hartpury College, Maisemore RDA provides and delivers opportunities for therapy, achievement and enjoyment to children in the moderate to severe disability group.

The Princess Royal was received by His Majesty's Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, Phil Vickery, alongside Patricia Kucharski (group coach and trustee at Maisemore RDA), Professor Andy Collop (vice-chancellor, principal and CEO of Hartpury University and Hartpury College) and Edward Keene (chair of governors at Hartpury University and Hartpury College).

A packed afternoon of events started with a jumping display from Italian event rider and three-time Olympian, Vittoria Panizzon, followed by a demonstration from members of the Gloucestershire Mounted Police.

Students, teachers, parents and carers from The Milestone School in Gloucester and Alderman Knight School in Tewkesbury then joined Hartpury University and Hartpury College students, Maisemore RDA volunteers and riders past and present, for a special musical ride.

RDA riders joined Hartpury University and Hartpury College students to showcase the versatility of much-loved RDA ponies Barney, Drummer and Brian, who all live at Hartpury Equine.

Following the musical ride, The Princess Royal presented long service awards to Maisemore volunteers, who between them have provided over 100 years of service to the group. Her Royal Highness also presented The President's Award, given to individuals who have served for 30 years or more, nominated by their respective RDA groups.

Patricia Kucharski, group coach and trustee at Maisemore RDA, said: "Without our wonderful volunteers who come along every week - some for over 30 years - we wouldn't be able to run our group.

"We're very pleased to be able to welcome Hartpury students who themselves are training to be RDA volunteers. As with any RDA group, we're only able to operate with enough volunteers and, most importantly, suitable horses and ponies. We're grateful for our long relationship with Hartpury University and Hartpury College."

Professor Andy Collop, vice-chancellor, principal and CEO of Hartpury, said: "I'd like to congratulate Maisemore RDA on its landmark 50th anniversary. It's our privilege that Hartpury Equine has been home to Maisemore RDA for 15 years. We're proud that our facilities enable the group and its members to easily access the many benefits horses and riding can bring.

"We were also delighted to welcome back The Princess Royal for this special occasion, given the support she has shown to the RDA over the last 50 years."

HRH The Princess Royal then unveiled a commemorative plaque, before being presented with a posy by Emily Blakey from The Milestone School.

The Princess Royal's long association with the UK-wide RDA spans more than 50 years, having become patron in 1971, then president in 1985. In 2019, she opened a new National Training Centre for RDA in Warwickshire. Just last month, she opened a new riding school track for the Wenlo RDA.

In 2019, she joined hundreds of competitors at the flagship annual RDA National Championships at Hartpury Equine, to celebrate the national organisation's 50th anniversary.

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