• Louise Clarke

Why I Love the RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association)

You may or may not already know from my social media but I'm a big fan of this charity and I just love what a difference they make to the lives of a huge number of disabled adults and children in the UK.

The RDA provides activities to these disabled participants such as riding and carriage driving which in turn provide therapy, development skills and fitness at around 500 groups dotted around the UK, all of which are largely supported by amazing volunteers.

I got involved several years ago when a friend of mine, who was a trustee of a local group, asked if I would be the official photographer when HRH Princess Anne, who is the charity's President, came to visit the group. The images would be used by the national RDA charity as well as the local group for their PR.

I was naturally a little daunted about this but I jumped at the chance of course!

The visit was amazing from start to finish and the atmosphere at the centre was just wonderful. There were so many smiling faces and special moments and HRH Princess Anne spent plenty of time touring the centre, watching the displays and chatting to some of the participants and volunteers. I have to say I was in my element people watching and capturing all the candid moments that only a camera can catch.

HRH Princess Anne is also such an great ambassador for the charity and commits a huge amount of time to visiting groups and events as well giving invaluable advice and support. She also clearly loves meeting the horses as much as the people too!

I was offered the chance to join the trustee board of my local group a while later and again I jumped at the chance. I know I can offer a huge amount from my business and photography experience so while I can I will.

I was then asked by the RDA to photograph a number of their events including their AGM, the National Championships and their new National Training Centre opening in 2019 for their PR. I've seen plenty of my images from various events used on their website, literature and on the front of their magazines and it gives me a lot of pleasure to know they are helping getting the message of what this charity does across.

I have to say my favourite event though to capture is definitely their National Championships they hold annually at Hartpury. I know it means so much to the participants from chatting to the members of my local group. It gives them a chance to develop, train and compete at a national level and gain a massive sense of achievement even from just qualifying to get there. I've taken the PR images for the event for several years now and it feels such a privilege everytime.

If you are interested in volunteering at any of their centres you can find your local centre on their website www.rda.org.uk.

And just a final word on the stars of the show for me, the horses. I've seen first hand how much a simple interaction between a disabled rider and a horse can make such a difference and how much difference riding can give to a participants confidence. Horses are such amazing and empathetic animals. As the charity says it really is about "enriching lives through horses" and I love it!


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