Grandmother of two Anne Brown (62) is well-known in RDA circles, not least for having its slogan: It’s what you CAN do that counts, tattooed on her bottom – despite hating tattoos!
She did it in hopes of saving the Bannockburn RDA from closure and while that wasn’t possible, the £1240 she raised was put to good use by the charity.
So she was more than happy to take part in the Riding for the Disabled Association’s 50 Faces campaign – to help highlight its golden anniversary this year.
Although her local branch closed, Anne continued to receive training from RDA coaches which has enabled her to compete in regional and national championships.
Indeed, at the recent national event in Hartpury she came home with a sixth in dressage and a silver in freestyle music.
And Anne can’t praise the RDA enough for getting her back in the saddle following her MS diagnosis in 2003.
She said: “I started riding when my daughters Karen (44) and Alison (40) were small but I gave up when I was diagnosed with MS.
“In 2009, I started riding with RDA as a challenge to test my boundaries as there were so many things I could no longer do.
“I have still yet to find the boundaries with riding. I might not be able to walk to the end of my street but I can get on a horse and ride a couple of miles over ground that my mobility scooter would never manage.
“Evelyn Lapsley very kindly let me ride her boy Basil at the championships.
“It’s one of the most amazing things I have been to as disability is so commonplace, everyone just ignores it and speaks to the person.
“That’s the beauty of riding too – people see the horse and not your disability.”
Right from the start, RDA has helped to open up the world of horses to everyone. The charity’s radical mission in 1969 that ‘no disabled person who could benefit from riding shall be denied the opportunity of doing so’ was the start of a quiet revolution that is still breaking down barriers today.
50 Faces acknowledges and celebrates RDA’s impact on people’s lives, regardless of age or background, from those who horse ride and carriage drive for life changing therapy, to the Paralympians who started their journey with their local RDA.
Caroline Ward, the charity’s UK communications manager, said: “In our 50th year we want people outside of RDA to feel that they can get involved.
“50 faces is about saying: if you think you know who takes part in horse sport – think again!
“RDA has spent 50 years breaking down barriers, championing the goals and achievements of disabled people and welcoming volunteers and supporters from all walks of life.
“By reading just a few of the stories behind the faces, hopefully we can inspire more people to join in.”
To find out more about Anne’s story, and that of 49 others, visit www.rda.org.uk/50-faces.
RDA brings together 500 volunteer groups throughout the UK.
More than 25,000 adults and children enjoy the benefits of riding or carriage driving. Coaches work closely with physiotherapists and other health professionals to encourage every individual to aim for attainable goals – some modest, others far more ambitious.
And each year more than 19,000 dedicated volunteers give a total of more than 3.5 million hours of their time to help.
RDA is reliant on this voluntary help, and public donations and legacies, to deliver its services.
If you would like to volunteer or help, visit www.rda.org.uk.