HRH The Princess Royal joined Maisemore Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) volunteers, invited guests and Hartpury University and Hartpury College staff on 16 November to celebrate their 50th anniversary and mark 15 years based at Hartpury Equine.

Operating from the equine centre at Hartpury University and Hartpury College, the Maisemore RDA provides equestrian opportunities for children in the moderate to severe disability group.

The Princess Royal was received by His Majesty’s Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire Phil Vickery, alongside Patricia Kucharski (Group Coach and Trustee at Maisemore RDA), Professor Andy Collop (Vice-Chancellor, Principal and CEO of Hartpury University and Hartpury College) and Edward Keene (Chair of Governors at Hartpury University and Hartpury College).

A packed afternoon of events started with a jumping display from Italian event rider and three-time Olympian Vittoria Panizzon, followed by a demonstration from members of the Gloucestershire Mounted Police.

Students, teachers, parents and carers from the Milestone School in Gloucester, and Alderman Knight School in Tewkesbury then joined Hartpury University and College students, Maisemore RDA volunteers and riders past and present, for a musical ride. RDA riders joined Hartpury University and College students to showcase the versatility of much-loved RDA ponies Barney, Drummer and Brian, who all are kept at Hartpury Equine.

Following the musical ride, The Princess Royal presented Long Service Awards to Maisemore volunteers who between them have provided over 100 years of service to the group. Her Royal Highness also presented The President’s Award, given to individuals who have served for 30 years or more, nominated by their respective RDA groups.

“Without our wonderful volunteers who come along every week – some for over 30 years, we wouldn’t be able to run our group,” said Patricia, who has been Group Coach and Trustee at Maisemore RDA for nine years.

“We’re very pleased to be able to welcome Hartpury students who themselves are training to be RDA volunteers. As with any RDA group, we’re only able to operate with enough volunteers and most importantly suitable horses and ponies. We’re grateful of our long relationship with Hartpury University and Hartpury College.”

The state-of-the-art Margaret Giffen Rider Performance Centre was the final stop of the afternoon for The Princess Royal, offering an opportunity to view the horse simulators, which are used regularly by Maisemore RDA. The centre is also home to a strength and conditioning suite and biomechanics equipment.

Finally, HRH The Princess Royal unveiled a commemorative plaque before being presented with a posy by Emily Blakey from the Milestone School.

“I’d like to congratulate Maisemore RDA on their landmark 50th anniversary,” said Professor Andy Collop, Vice-Chancellor, Principal and CEO of Hartpury. “It’s our privilege that Hartpury Equine has been home to Maisemore RDA for 15 years. We’re proud that our facilities enable the group and its members to easily access the many benefits horses and riding can bring.

“We were also delighted to welcome back The Princess Royal for this special occasion, given the support she has shown to the RDA over the last 50 years.”

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