Dedicated volunteer Pat Bishop was rewarded for her years of work for the Riding for the Disabled Association with a personal audience with Princess Anne last week.
Pat, from Melton, stood down as county chairman after more than 15 years in the role at the RDA’s annual meeting at Cheltenham Racecourse where she was presented to the Princess Royal.
It was not the first time Pat had met the charity’s patron and president who officially opened the Somerby Livery Centre eight years ago.
“We were put into groups of six retiring RDA county chairmen and met her after the morning session,” Pat said
“I was third in the line-up and we were not introduced as she knew who I was and where I came from.
“She said ‘oh yes the Mount Group in Leicestershire, I came and opened your new base in 2008 didn’t I?’
“She was so relaxed as she always is at RDA events. She is dedicated to the association and has been president for 30 years so knows a lot of people very well.”
In the coming weeks, Pat will also step down as chairman of the Somerby-based Mount Group where she has helped to find hundreds of thousands of pounds to keep the group afloat over more than two decades.
She reluctantly made the decision after being diagnosed with terminal cancer around 11 months ago and is now embarking on her own informal bucket list.
But Pat refused to stand down until a new home had been found for the group and their future was secure.
She will remain a trustee of the group which has been helping riders with physical and learning disabilities for 30 years.
Group organiser Di Poyser met Pat in the group’s early years when she took autistic children from Craven Lodge School for a riding session.
Within weeks she had been persuaded to become a volunteer and then instructor.
“Pat’s enthusiasm for what the group was delivering to children and adults with physical and learning difficulties was clear to see and very soon I too became hooked,” she said.
“Her passion for the work we do has never diminished. Her drive and ambition for the group has been second-to-none.
“I know I speak on behalf of all the volunteers that Pat has been an incredible person to have at the helm.
“Over the years her dogged determination and powers of persuasion have achieved all kinds of support from donations of money and equipment, to fundraising and bequests. It’s difficult to say no to Pat!”
Di added: “Even when faced with her own personal challenges she remains upbeat and optimistic.
“The journey of the Mount Group has been, and always will be, her focus and it wouldn’t be where it is today without her.
“It’s up to us to continue that journey and her life’s work.”