In a not so quiet part of Sevenoaks, just off the A25, lies a tranquil area that is home to the Bradbourne RDA. We spent some time with Sarah Fenn, the Chairman of Trustees and Volunteer at the Bradbourne Riding for the Disabled Group to find out exactly what they do on a day-to-day basis.
Bradbourne RDA group was one of the earliest members of the Riding for the Disabled Association and was founded in the early 1960’s by their current President and landlord, Peter Felgate. In 2012 they celebrated their 50th anniversary.
There are now approximately 500 RDA groups in the UK and all are independent charities. Bradbourne RDA is run by a management committee of trustee directors and a community of specially trained volunteers, and they are assisted by a small staff at the National Office in Warwickshire.
Bradbourne RDA are based at Bradbourne Riding and Training Centre in Sevenoaks and operate on all term-time weekdays and four evenings each week. All riders come from the wider local area, some from schools and others from their own or residential homes. All participants are looked after by a team of fully trained volunteer coaches and helpers. RDA Health and Safety requirements are necessarily strict and they supply all the necessary training to provide a safe friendly and fun environment for all that visit.
They provide opportunities for therapy, achievement and enjoyment for people of all ages with a wide range of disabilities, through riding and carriage driving and enable each participant to reach therapeutic goals by improving balance and muscle tone, to develop essential life skills in improving communication and taking responsibility for themselves, to enjoy an outdoor physical activity and most of all to connect with the wonderful horses and ponies who are carefully chosen for their temperament and have been specially trained for RDA work.
The RDA provide both riding & carriage driving and they encourage their riding and driving participants to take part in RDA proficiency tests and in local, regional and national competitions and events. They have recently added endurance riding and show jumping to their activities and there are shows and competitions for carriage drivers too.
They have had great success at the RDA National Championships at Hartpury College, winning first prizes in the musical ride competition and other prizes in dressage and show jumping. For some riders, a short ride around the arena is a huge achievement in itself.
A clubhouse fit for purpose
The clubhouse plays an essential part in the RDA’s activities and is used for training sessions and social events as well as being the hub of the day-to-day activities and summer camps.
Thanks to generous grants from a number of individuals and organisations, they were finally able to re-build their clubhouse in June 2011. And now they have a building to be proud of which will serve many people for many years to come.
‘The equipping of the clubhouse was funded by a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund and we should like to acknowledge all the generous donations we received for this project which enabled us to purchase and equip a fantastic new clubhouse.’
Time will tell on ownership of land
The Bradbourne Riding and Training Centre currently occupies several acres of land adjacent to the busy A25. However an ongoing [District] Council mandate, due to be resolved in 18 months time, will decide if the land should be used for affordable housing or if they are able to keep using it for people who evidently enjoy and need the space on a regular basis.
Volunteering for Bradbourne RDA
Bradbourne Riding for the Disabled Group is run totally by volunteers who enable them to work with over three hundred children and adults from the local area to obtain the proven wellbeing and health benefits from riding and carriage driving.
This provides a wealth of opportunities for anyone over 14 to volunteer whatever your interests, skills, experience, or how little time you have available.
If you only have some occasional free time or are someone that would prefer to work on a computer from home, rather than spend time in a field, then Bradbourne RDA would like to hear from you. They are always looking for new volunteers whether that be in the field of horsemanship, utilising your business skills or simply ensuring the smooth running of the group as a whole.
About Bradbourne Riding Centre
Bradbourne Riding & Training Centre is owned and run by Peter & Liz Felgate and Sara Howe. Their expertise enables Bradbourne to offer a wide range of activities associated with horses and ponies including riding tuition for most ages and abilities.
Based in Sevenoaks, Kent, they can meet the needs of just about anyone who wishes to ride with them. They are extremely accessible due to their close proximity to the M25 and also to Sevenoaks mainline railway station.
As an approved British Horse Society establishment, they hold horse and pony welfare, along with client safety and satisfaction, as their main priorities. Bradbourne is insured for public liability and complies with the latest health and safety legislation.
If you are interested in taking up horse riding, or perhaps getting back to it after a long break then please do get in contact with them. They are generally very busy, however get yourself booked in and try a lesson, they have horses of all sizes and welcome beginners to experienced riders.
To book a ride call 01732 453592. Alternatively you can contact them via their website at bradbourneriding.com.
If you would like to find out more and volunteer for Bradbourne RDA you can contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them on 07914 273610.