Video: Norfolk horse riding charity appeals for volunteers after being forced to cancel sessions

The Broadland Riding for the Disabled Association has had to cancel sessions due to dwindling numbers of volunteers like Alison Richards (right). The Broadland Riding for the Disabled Association has had to cancel sessions due to dwindling numbers of volunteers like Alison Richards (right).

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
7:52 PM

A charity that provides horse riding sessions for physically disabled adults has had to cancel its sessions for the foreseeable future due to a lack of volunteers.

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Norfolk Broadland Riding for the Disabled Group (RDA) can no longer operate its meetings safely at Redhall Livery Stables in Beeston Lane, Beeston St Andrew after a number of volunteers left, meaning the disabled riders are missing out on vital physiotherapy which helps improve posture, balance and co-ordination.

Amanda Royde-Smith, a senior riding instructor with the RDA, said the group, which has been running for 25 years at different locations, had lost 10 volunteers during the last year for a variety of reasons, including emigration, moving house, finding a full time job and going away to university.

The departures mean the charity now has eight volunteers, of whom only six are active physically with the other two being administrative.

To run the horses safely, 10 active helpers are needed, with three per rider as the volunteers ride three people at a time.

Ms Royde-Smith said: “All the remaining volunteers are dismayed that the sudden and unexpected loss of three valuable helpers means that we can no longer safely deliver our session to our loyal riders.

“We have got to know them very well and understand how important this weekly or fortnightly outing is for them. “We are very keen to recruit new willing volunteers who need not be “horsey”, we shall organise a training morning and the primary requirement is having sturdy shoes, warm clothing and a cheerful and open minded attitude.”

She said the charity needed active helpers but would welcome anyone who can help with managing the website, dealing with invoices and letters to riders and their carers, fund raising and other administrative tasks.

There are currently 21 riders relying on the charity’s services, who have disabilities including osteoperosis, schizophrenia, epilepsy, tuberous sclerosis, autism, Downs’ syndrome, spina bifida, cerebral palsy and other non-specific learning difficulties or visual impairment.

Ms Royde-Smith added: “Riding provides physiotherapy on the move, the warmth and three dimensional movement of the horse is transmitted through the body, helping riders to relax, become stronger or more supple, improving posture, balance and co-ordination.”

Anyone who would like to volunteer for the charity can do so by phoning 07799 171945.

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