A self-funding group which has helped to enrich the lives of hundreds of the borough’s disabled through sport celebrated its 30th birthday on Saturday.
From small beginnings, the Mount Group Riding for the Disabled (RDA) has grown to become one of the most active groups in Leicestershire, having 50 riders each week from schools and day centres in Melton, Oakham and the surrounding areas.
The Somerby-based charity marked the special occasion with a fundraising garden party for volunteers past and present at the Great Dalby home of group organiser Di Poyser and husband Keith.
Presentations were made to founder members Jean Chapman, Jean Campbell and chairman Pat Bishop, while many former riders and their families joined the celebration, including some from the original group of 1986.
Around 150 people attended the party, which featured music by D’ukes of Rutland and afternoon tea made by many of the volunteers.
Representatives from RDA’s national HQ also attended the event which raised more than £2,300.
The group started with a small band of disabled riders from the Mount School, six borrowed ponies and 12 volunteers who would meet for sessions on Thursday afternoons.
Over the years many fundraising events were organised to keep the group going, and ponies were bought, notably Frankie and Oscar, while others were donated.
Over time an outdoor school replaced the field, and further sessions were introduced, allowing more riders, children and adults, to join. Extra volunteers were recruited and formed a hard-working and dedicated group.
Riders took part in gymkhanas, sponsored rides, and competitions, such as the National Special Olympics in Cardiff in 2001, and Leicester in 2009.
Mount Group riders have regularly come through qualifiers and excelled at the annual RDA National Championships at Hartpury.
But one of the biggest highlights of the last three decades came in 2008 when Princess Anne officially opened the state-of-the-art premises at Somerby Livery.
The group will now embark on their latest chapter at a new home, thanks to the support of Gail and Tony Stimson who will welcome them back to Somerby Equestrian Centre later this year.