Princess Royal pays a special visit to Carronshore carriage group

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The weather was bleak, but nobody in the Carronshore-based Forth Driving Group was bothered - because a very special guest was about to drop by for a visit.

HRH the Princess Royal clearly enjoyed meeting members of the group founded five years ago to build on the work of a previous body.

She was visiting in her capacity as President of the Riding for the Disabled Association, and was interested to learn of the work carried out by the Forth group’s John Thomson and his grandson Brian, who provide carriage driving for disabled people.

Based at Riverside Stables in Dock Street, the group currently has eleven clients.

A spokesperson said: “While some have no motor skills enabling them to drive, they clearly love the experience of being driven by one of our qualified coaches.

“At the other end of the spectrum we have those who revel in the thrill of competition”.

The Princess Royal spent time speaking to every client before watching a short driving demonstration by Linda Farquhar and Ann Cameron, driving ponies Ozzy and Splash.

HRH was then invited to meet fundraiser Richard Sterling-Aird, who she presented with an Over and Above Award for his efforts to buy a purpose-built carriage.

He had taken on this task in memory of his wife Merete, for whom the Riding for the the Disabled Association meant so much.

HRH was then escorted by local member Brian Thomson to see the newly resurfaced arena, and was presented with a bouquet by Alister Scott, the group’s longest-serving driver.

Another member, Alasdair Macleod, was presented with the Merete Award for putting his many-sided talents to good use on the group’s behalf - he tackles everything from carriage maintenance to joinery and painting.

The group’s spokesperson said: “Our thanks to Her Royal Highness for visiting us, but equally to the good people of Carronshore for their welcome and support - from our inception to the present day.”