I often describe the Cavalier Centre as my “happy place” so if you’d like to spend time with ponies and make a real difference to someone else’s life then do give it a go. It could become your happy place too!
My journey to RDA began when I was 4yrs old and sat on a pony for the first time. It was love at first sight and my love of all things equine has continued ever since! I didn’t come from a horsey family but had weekly riding lessons until I was 14 and got my own pony. Sandy was a 14.2 chestnut mare and she was kept in a local field with my friend Deb’s pony. We didn’t do Pony Club or compete but we had lots of fun and adventures. We are still best friends (and horse mad!) and celebrated our 60th birthdays at the show jumping final of the London Olympics.
Horses had to take a back seat when I started work as an HR manager with Marks & Spencer as I got moved around the country at frequent intervals. Whilst working in London I met Roger and we married and had three children. It became clear that our daughter Lucy had inherited the “pony gene” and so happily horses entered my life once more!
We moved to Shropshire when the children were young and I worked as an HR manager for Sainsbury’s and, for the last 10yrs of my working life, for Age UK managing a project that helped older people stay independent in their own homes for as long as possible. It was my first contact with the charitable sector and made me realise just how many people in our society are supported by volunteers. So when I retired and was thinking about how I wanted to spend my time RDA seemed an obvious choice. I started with a group in Stottesdon but sadly that folded about 3months later. In March 2019 I became aware that the Cavalier Centre was about to open and needed volunteers. I made contact, attended various training sessions and have been here ever since.
I absolutely love everything about it. Obviously there’s the contact with our gorgeous ponies and also meeting a fantastic group of like minded people (volunteers, coaches, staff and trustees) but the main thing is seeing what a huge difference it makes to our riders and to their families. Seeing a rider go from reluctant, and sometimes just frightened, to sitting happily on a pony with a huge smile on their face is so rewarding. Clearly some of our riders can be challenging but with the support of our coaches we generally get there.
The Cavalier Centre has amazing facilities and is in a very beautiful part of Shropshire. I’ve been very well supported and trained even learning about carriage driving! I generally do two sessions a week but if I need to take time off to travel (two of my children now live in the USA and New Zealand) then that’s fine. I often describe the Cavalier Centre as my “happy place” so if you’d like to spend time with ponies and make a real difference to someone else’s life then do give it a go. It could become your happy place too!