When volunteer Rosemary joined the charity, we were still named the Muirfield Riding for the Disabled Group (Muirfield RDA). Read on to find out about Rosemary’s volunteer story and our name change.
When I retired to North Berwick in February 2003 the first place I looked to volunteer was the then-named Muirfield Riding for the Disabled (RDA) at West Fenton. The new Indoor Arena had opened for use six months prior, so I didn’t have the outside experience the group had at that point! Over many years I have been involved in many charities but none as rewarding as this one. We are so privileged to actually be close to our participants and to see the difference we can make.
About a year after I joined, new rules came into effect around Child Protection (now called Safeguarding) and I became the Child Protection Officer for the charity. I was very pleased to take on this role, as part of the charity’s management Committee. I was a member of the Committee during a very exciting time as the group started to grow. We soon realized that we needed even more space so the process of planning, fundraising and building our new facility began. As a group we all pulled together to fundraise and of course have fun, we are good at that here! We added our physio room, viewing gallery, meeting room and kitchen and toilet facilities, offices and a much improved reception.
During this time, NHS Lothian physio, Heather Falconer, had been volunteering with us. Her work, together with our then-Chair Susan Law, developed into the pioneering Children’s Therapeutic Riding Service, our partnership with NHS Lothian. Heather’s input was a huge part of our new expertise and it was then that we changed our name to reflect our work, so Muirfield Riding Therapy was born. (We are still a member of RDA, which has over 500 groups across the UK). Having recognition from the NHS was a huge accolade, thanks to Heather. She has taught us so much, and we now have a small team of physios including hippotherapists (hippotherapy is a form of specialist physio on horseback), working with us.
After 17 years in my Safeguarding role, I am stepping down, but it is great to see new people being enthusiastic and so keen to help with everything that needs doing, especially with our lovely, very special ponies and horses. Carry on working with this special charity, you will never regret it.
Photo by Jim Hunter Images , Rosemary is on the left in the light blue fleece, with friend and fellow volunteer Frances.