IT COULD not have been better weather last week for the Andover Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) 50th Anniversary Fun Day, which took place at Frenches Farm in Little London.

Children and staff from Icknield and Mark Way schools were joined by Nathalie Akhmatova, the head of Wolverdene school who accompanied her pupils and staff.

There were also several of the regular adult riders, as well as parents who’d come along to support.

All the riders have some form of physical, behavioural or learning challenge. They were all brilliantly engaged within their capacity to engage, and for many the event was very meaningful. .

On the RDA side there were coaches, judges, pony leaders, side-walkers and other volunteers. There were also two past chairs of the group, Elizabeth Maclay and Mercedes Leonard, so that, via the current chair, Mary Childs, a direct line can be drawn back to Diana Murdoch who started the group with money from a pony club jumble sale fifty years ago.

The walls of the marquee, erected to provide shade and to house the beautiful celebration cake, were decorated with photographs and press clippings from the Andover RDA archives covering all five decades.

READ MORE: Andover Riding for the Disabled celebrates 50th anniversary

Everyone took part in two competitions, a Handy Pony and a Gymkhana, and prizes as well as a specially commissioned anniversary rosette, were presented by Claire Scheckter, Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire. There was also a special adult prize which was taken home by Owen Foster.

Mrs Scheckter said it was a fantastic day and that “it’s humbling to see the joy on the riders’ faces”.

Finally, Mrs Scheckter cut the cake and then, in closing the day, Mary Childs said how proud everyone involved with RDA was of all the riders who took part. She offered special thanks to Anna and Charlie French for hosting the event and to parents of the riders as well as the staff from all of the schools who are such great and vital supporters.

Andover Riding for the Disabled is always looking for volunteers and you can find more information at or search for Andover RDA on Facebook.

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