Milestone marked in style as Riding for the Disabled group celebrates 50 years
PUBLISHED: 16:09 26 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:09 26 September 2019
A Lowestoft riding school has celebrated 50 years of helping disabled people to improve their health and wellbeing through horse riding.
After Tess Hardy started a Riding for the Disabled Group (RDA) at her riding school in Carlton Road, Lowestoft in 1969, it was the first of its kind in the area.
She had established Pakefield Riding School in 1946 and since forming the Lowestoft headquarters of RDA more than 20 years later it has flourished and has helped many physically and mentally disabled people to experience the therapeutic benefits of horse riding.
Last week, some former and current helpers were invited to a sponsored ride-out along the shoreline at Pakefield to celebrate the half-century milestone.
Mrs Hardy said: "I now have nearly 50 riders a week using our facility and as well as locals, others come from Norwich, Beccles and Yarmouth.
"We have a really nice indoor school as well as an outdoor school and we bring them to the beach sometimes.
"We also provide a week's holidays with games, lessons and rides to the beach and to Blackheath woods."
Tess, 87, and husband John, 81, are still very much hands on with the RDA group and both go in to the stables all the time. However the charity is keen to attract more helpers.
Mrs Hardy said: "We are desperate for more volunteers. They need to not be afraid of horses and although we will show them what to do, they need to enjoy working with children and adults who have special needs.
"Volunteering with RDA can be rewarding and fulfilling.
"RDA is a charity and survives thanks to the generosity of donors.
"We are delighted to be Marks and Spencer's chosen charity of the year.
"My running costs are quite high with one of the biggest expenses being shoeing my horses. I have a Shire-cross-Clydesdale and every eight weeks his shoes need replacing.
"The horseshoes cost £120 each and he also needs a tranquillizer costing £40."
Over many decade Tess has become well-known in the community for her charity work and she is very respected in local equestrian circles - having earned an MBE for services to the disabled.