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A Royal Visit!

Many of you have noticed that the blog has been rather quiet lately. Well now you know it's because of the preparation for our 40th Celebration and a Royal visit!

So, here's a round up of what we've been up to!

Afternoon tea!

Thank you so much to everyone who came to our afternoon tea! We had a lovely time and hope you did too! I won a plant which I will endeavour to keep alive, and Jarrod won the silent auction for the brilliant picture of Bertie that our resident artist, Jo Bansall. She will be painting more of the herd so don't worry if you missed Bertie, there'll be more to bid on.

I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Mojca for the brilliant job she did organising the event, it only went so well because of all the preparation that went into organising it.

We hope to have a Christmas party, too, so if you missed this one, or enjoyed it so much you want to come again, keep an eye on the website, or our socials for details!

A Royal Visit

Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal attended a very special event on Monday 2nd October to celebrate the Avon Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) group’s 40th year of riding. The Group is based at The Avon Centre on the outskirts of Bristol.

The Princess Royal was received on arrival by HM Lord-Lieutenant, Mrs Peaches Golding, accompanied by LL Cadet SM Mountford, outside the Ken Canby Workshop. Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Robert Bourns and High Sheriff of Bristol, Sharon Foster JP were presented along with Avon Centre Trustees, Andy White, Cliff Evans, Sylvia Vincent and Amy Connelly, and RDA Coordinator Kim Langbridge.

The Princess Royal toured the main stable yard, where she met staff, RDA horses, Coaches, arena volunteers, some parents and a number of riders who shared with her their RDA experiences.

HRH visited the Pony Palace and our small herd of Shetland ponies. The volunteer team explained how they use the Shetland ponies to improve lives, by reducing anxiety and improve confidence. She then met two students from Blaise High School and spoke with them about their recent ASDAN experience. ASDAN is an evidence based educational programme for SEND learners.

Her Royal Highness moved into the indoor arena and joined a specially invited audience of RDA riders, volunteers and other supporters to watch two wonderful ridden displays. The first had a unicorn theme and was ridden by a group of six young riders and their leaders. The second display was put on by six of our independent teenagers and young adult riders; it was a very active routine and showcased the skills of each of the riders.

The Princess Royal presented President’s Awards to Vicky Gumm and Elizabeth Maclay for exceptional service to RDA for more than 35 years and four 30 year service awards to Avon RDA volunteers – Angela Blott, Maureen Clark, Mair Davies and Jennifer Marchant. She also unveiled a plaque to commemorate her visit and our 40th anniversary.

Andy White, Chair of The Avon Centre Trustees, thanked HRH for visiting the Centre. The Princess Royal responded saying that it was a real pleasure to be back at Avon to celebrate 40 years of riding and noted that balancing the need for more horses and volunteers to meet the demand from additional riders was a slightly complicated equation. She offered her congratulations for the past 40 years and she hoped that her visit would help raise the profile of the RDA Group and support a clear programme for the future.

The afternoon was a wonderful opportunity to showcase the history of Avon RDA, the benefits of RDA activities, while highlighting some of the current challenges and future opportunities. Attendees were able to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones. As is RDA tradition, the celebration was completed with tea and cake!

The Centre looks forward to working with businesses and other organisations to mark this milestone, if you are interested in finding out how you can collaborate please get.

And for those of you who missed it...

Here is a picture of me in my very special jacket that I wore for the visit. It has been described as my technicolour dreamcoat, and is circulating RDA National Office as we speak... From left to right, it's me in my special rainbow jacket and pink trousers (you can't see but there is a horse on the back pocket...), Sylvia, one of the Centre's trustees, High Sherriff of Bristol, Sharon Foster JP, Tegan, who is our Centre ambassador and para dressage rider, and Fabian who is making a documentary about the RDA.

Welcome Viktorija!

As some of you may already be aware, Crystal has left her role as Volunteer Co-ordinator (although she has promised to come back and support with events!). We are delighted to welcome Viktorija, who will be working 20 hours across the week. She will be in touch with everyone soon about any refresher training that's due and you can reach out if you need any help setting up your account on Better Impact. If you see her around please say hello and introduce yourself!

RDA Riders! Don't forget the Country Side Challenge Competition!

On October 27th Avon RDA Group is holding a fun Countryside Challenge Competition.

The RDA Countryside Challenge is a development of the skills acquired in RDA sessions. The CC course is focused upon school movements, both challenging and stimulating the rider, but with the focus being fun. During the course, riders have the opportunity to put their skills to the test through challenging tasks, going through the gate, into the farmyard encountering sheep and hens (not real ones)! Steering, balance and confidence are all put to the test.

One of the challenges is posting a letter, which James is demonstrating in the picture below!

Can we send you packing?

We are excited to have been given the opportunity to do a Bag Pack at the Tesco at Golden Hill this weekend. We will have buckets at the end of the tills and will support people with packing their shopping and hopefully get some donations!

We will be there between 10am and 4pm, so if you could take a slot (anywhere from 1 hour to 4 hours) please email Viktorija and let her know on

Brilliant picture of a horse with a shopping bag by Julien Tromeur from Pixabay

Tiny Royal Herd!

Instead of Pet of the Week this week we have our herd of Shetland ponies preparing for the Royal Visit by wearing crowns! Thank you to Paige for submitting them!

If you have a pet that deserves recognition, or you've taken a particularly good photo of one of our equine team members and you'd like to show it off, please send it as an email to

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