Herefordshire Freemasons sponsor horse for RDA

Local Freemasons have continued their long-standing support for Hereford Riding for the Disabled with a donation of £1,100. £1,000 of this comes from the members of the Herefordshire Province as a whole, through the Herefordshire Masonic Charity Association, and £100 from the members of Coningsby Lodge in Hereford.

Hereford RDA has 12 horses, of varied sizes, all of a gentle and friendly temperament, and the money will go towards sponsoring one of them, Jelly, shown in the picture.

The local RDA is one of a network of nearly 500 all over the country. With just 4 full time members of staff, it relies heavily on its team of volunteers. Each local group is independent, and money raised stays for the benefit of that local group.

RDA’s clients, children and adults, live with a number of physical and learning disabilities, and autism. The charity aims to give them an enjoyable experience, but through that to provide them with a wide range of therapeutic benefits – improving their physical abilities, self-confidence, communication skills, social skills and relationship building among others. One example was a little girl who wouldn’t talk, but a few months of interaction with the horses encouraged her to start to speak.

Gordon Bumfrey of Coningsby Lodge; David Harding and Sarah Fishbourne of RDA; Jelly, with Charlotte from RDA; Michael Holland, Deputy PGM in Charge; Nick Swan, Provincial Charity Steward

The charity carefully assesses progress on a number of variables, following an initial assessment, and can demonstrate the wide range of benefits that interaction with the horses provides. It’s not just about having fun, although that’s important too.

It’s not only the clients that benefit – the volunteers do too. They come from a wide range of backgrounds, with varying amounts of previous contact with horses, and are given all necessary training. Volunteers derive a range of benefits themselves, and the RDA is keen to measure these benefits too. Hereford has 70 volunteers, and wants to raise this to 100, as each session with a client can often require three volunteers with one individual. If you’re interested, have a look at their website here.

Children and adults come to the RDA by a number of routes, mainly through word of mouth, and via their website and social media. Seven or eight local schools come on a regular basis.

The Hereford facility at Holme Lacy provides a range of activities, and has equipment such as lifts to enable people with disabilities to mount and dismount easily and safely, with the help of the volunteers. There is an indoor riding school, shown in the photo, and extensive adjoining land for trekking and longer hacks into the country.

David Harding, Chairman, and Sarah Fishbourne, fundraising manager, expressed their gratitude to the Freemasons of Herefordshire for their continued support.

Herefordshire Freemasons are delighted to be continuing their support for this excellent and very worthwhile charity. We will follow the career of our newly sponsored horse, Jelly, with great interest!

You can find out more about the RDA on their website here.