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A blast from the past

camillalatestIn an article entitled Hot Shoe Shuffle in the Oct/Nov 2002 Wychwood issue, Liz Watson wrote about Camilla Harvey’s work to support the Abingdon Riding for the Disabled (RDA) group. In the summer of 2002, over a 3 week period, Camilla and her team took 5 disabled riders on a daily 10-mile journey on ponies; the total distance covered was 170 miles with riders and ponies staying overnight at local B&Bs. The highlights of the trip included the professionalism of the RDA, and the look of achievement and joy on the faces of the disabled riders. Now, 15 years later, we let Camilla pick up the story…

I re-read the Hot Shoe Shuffle article and now look back at that unique sponsored ride with a great deal of pride for the huge achievement of so many participating disabled riders. The final sum raised was £11,000 which is probably more than any other fund-raising event this Group has organised. Sadly, with the proliferation of Health and Safety restrictions today, by which RDA and other charities are governed, this wonderful ride would now be impossible. Daniel, mentioned in the article as a potential Paralympian, decided that his priorities lay in becoming a qualified lawyer. But we do now have an extremely accomplished rider Molly, whom I taught when she was 2 ½ years old, who is now spending her gap year training exclusively for the next Paralympics; good luck to her!

The Abingdon Group continues to flourish, dispensing a unique therapy to more than 80 children and adults whose ages range from 2 to 70 years. There are now two paid stable managers, 140 volunteers and 12 ponies/horses. The annual costs are ever increasing and now exceed £90,000. What we definitely need is a full-time voluntary fundraiser!

The Wychwoods have been amazingly supportive over the years, choosing this RDA Group for one of the annual fund raising charity balls, inviting me to talk on various occasions to the WI, accompanied by an excellent film which David Trollope made highlighting the Group. Alice Burns wrote and produced a wonderful Cinderella pantomime, which was performed at the stables, filmed by John Drew, and supported by many from the village. I offer my very grateful thanks to you all.

After 33 years’ involvement as an instructor and trustee, I have decided it is time to take a back seat and just support the fundraising activities. I carry so many happy memories of my time with this Group. My life has been made all the richer for being part of such an exceptional charity.

Camilla Harvey

June – July 2017