Shropshire County RDA News

Page Updated: Sept 19 

 Shropshire County Chairman


 Lizzie Lawrence 

In Shropshire we have 8 Groups  spread throughout the County and we assist some 250+ children and adults to improve their lives and meet individual goals and challenges.  With the support of people like you, who cheerfully give up their free time to help by investing a couple of hours each week, we can continue to provide our life-changing activities and increase provision to include the thousands of needy people who are currently missing out.

The Marches Group Celebrates 50 Years of RDA

Greeted with the customary RDA open welcome and blessed with a warm sunny morning it was a true pleasure to be part of the Marches Group 50th Celebration on Thursday.  And what a morning it was.

The “Marches” ride at Pen Y Coed Riding Stables on the edge of the England/Wales border.  The Group can trace its long history back to the founding days of RDA via a link to the local market town of Oswestry.  Not that they want to look backwards, rather they are a team of forward looking enthusiasts that make full use of the Stables’ facilities.  Supported by owners George, Jim and mum Pam Hanson the weekly sessions now take place in a superb new indoor school.  The outdoor ménage is also first class on fine days, “and we have delightful hacks on properly prepared and safe tracks straight from the yard” beamed Clare Bellison the Group Chairman.

Ludlow and District RDA
Tribute to Jean Midwood.

Jean Midwood, who so sadly died this week  May 2020  aged 91, was the mainstay of Ludlow and District RDA and an inspiration to so many riders and helpers over the years, it is hard to imagine the group without her, she was Ludlow and District, particularly to Peter and myself.

Jean, a horsewoman of immense knowledge and ability, started with RDA back in the very early 1970's when it was part of the Red Cross, and riding took place at Cleobury Court near Cleobury North, with 8 riders and 4 ponies borrowed from the Viscountess of Boyne. As the group progressed Jean called on the help of a young and unsuspecting riding school proprietor who she knew would do as he was told, and he obligingly would put 3 ponies into a trailer and drive them off to Jean. It became obvious that it would be far more practical for Jean and the riders to come to the ponies, and Ludlow and District, or Brown Clee as it was then known, was born, and the brilliant partnership of Jean Midwood and Peter Dickin was forged.

It is difficult to emphasis the extent to which the group was shaped by Jean as it grew. She was the Group Organiser and Secretary, and our group became an Independent Charity under her guidance in 1998, and continued to grow even more. She was also very involved in the County side of RDA, on the Holiday Committee for years, taking riders for a few days to stay at riding centres, going to countless meetings all over the country at the same time as running our group and still helping with the rides, and was instrumental in getting the Lottery grant for the arena in 2000. When she decided to "retire" from RDA when she was in her early 80's, Peter and I tried very hard to dissuade her, and although she stayed on as a Trustee for a couple of years, she finally stood down but continued to fund raise and keep in touch with everything that was going on up at North Farm.

Jean never suffered fools gladly, but was the kindest person possible with anyone who ever needed any help, admired by all and was totally devoted to RDA. She will be enormously missed but remembered by everyone who knew her, and her legacy is the wonderful group we now have. Our sad condolences to her Family.


“...and we ALWAYS have Cake”!

So were the proud words of the Rea Valley Group in Shropshire in their celebration of 50 Years of RDA.  This came at the end of a very energetic, well delivered and most positive morning where a dozen riders were put through their paces.  Whether Visually Impaired, carrying a debilitating physical condition or recovering from severe injury, each and every rider was given care, attention and every encouragement to progress and feel good about themselves. Each was presented with a commemorative Golden rosette and their Endeavour and Achievement Awards brought especially by Marisa Bretherton-McKay of the National Office Team.  “It was a truly excellent session in every respect and a smashing exhibition of what RDA delivers”.

Surrounded by a host of supporters including some of the “Founding Sisters”, Carla Howarth the Group Chairman gave a warm welcome and praised the foresight of the ladies that had the vision to “provide an opportunity for those that had a need” and that they “should feel deeply proud of the foundations that had led to the Group that is still flourishing today”.  Diana Baart and Mary Anne Richey recalled with enthusiasm that they were driven by a need to support riders from the local Rowton Castle Blind School, a brave move back in the early 70s.  Such was the success that the Group “morphed” into the Rea Valley Group with the two ladies giving around 30 or so years service each and who remain active supporters today.  

Among many highlights was a short insight into her father’s life given by Mary Monro who had made the journey up from Bath for the day.  Mary has written a fascinating book recalling the challenges, exploits and dogged determination of her late father, Lt Col John Monro MC Royal Artillery, who had escaped the Japanese by crossing 1200 miles through China following capture at the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941.  As a Shropshire farmer and keen horseman post War he dedicated his life to creating opportunity, “freedom and agency” to assist others who had suffered.  His efforts all those years ago were at the root of what RDA is all about and Mary was delighted to present Rea Valley with a generous “cheque for £850 in support of the wonderful work you do and to reinforce the legacy of a truly heroic and self effacing man”.

“I love coming to this Group, you are so positive, have such great team spirit, and you look after both rider and their supporters so well.  It’s a joy to see so many smiles and such a professional approach from a dedicated team of volunteers and so much lovely cake, it is a wonderful RDA experience”, summed up Anona White the Regional Chairman in adding her thanks and congratulations on a superb day.  Oh yes and also to record, congratulations to Carla on a most successful Coach Review, “we never miss an opportunity” added Jackie Cordery, one of the Group Trustees.



What a smashing evening Jacky Whittle and I shared in the company of the Shropshire Federation of Young Farmers Clubs last night.  In the splendid surroundings of Shrewsbury Town Football Club we were given a whistle stop tour of their past year with tales of daring - do, hard graft and tears and smiles.  It was their AGM, delightfully hosted by Judy Dixon the County President who guided us seamlessly through the various Annual Reports and commentaries on the, “stuff of life for Young Farmers”.

And what wonderful “stuff” they get up to.  Hard working and equally hard socialising young men and women stood to the platform and reported of success in the stock pens, farmyards and fields, success in the Shearing Championships and success in the Show Rings across the County and Internationally.  Truly impressive reports were delivered in style with great humour reflecting their enthusiasm for feeding the Nation and for raising the profile of farming and the Agri-business.  Struck by the detailed planning, the endeavour and the sheer hard work that goes into filling a year I ached with laughter as speaker after speaker raised the humour level in treating us to their highlights, great fun!

So why were we there?  As guests of Miss Clarrie Hocknell, the Chairman for 2018, we were present to receive a cheque at the end of her time in office.  Clarrie chose Shropshire RDA alongside the Lingen Davies Cancer Fund to benefit from her “12 Challenges for the Year” in which she encouraged, cajoled and led young farmers, “to attempt the undoable, to do the unthinkable and to go to places that Salop young farmers have not been to before”.  Swimming around ice cold lakes, kayaking on rivers and seas, cycling from here to there (it’s a very long way to Blackpool!), not to mention trekking to Machu Pichu, just to see how others do farming!  What a truly energetic and enthusiastic young lady Clarrie is.  And we are most grateful to her and her intrepid team since £3750 will go a long way in helping Shropshire RDA to continue its splendid work improving lives for the disabled across the County.  RDA is 50 years young next year and we look forward to it knowing that we are supported by so many caring souls across Shropshire who kept us in mind throughout 2018, thank you all.

Ellie’s Thanks to Rea Valley RDA
 Eleanor (Ellie) was born in July 1999 with a very rare genetic disorder known as Jacobsen’s Syndrome.  Almost from the first day we were confronted by the “never be able to” prognosis: she’ll never be able to do this or that – walking being amongst them; riding a bike etc.  She didn’t walk until she was about to enter primary school; her balance was poor and stability very dodgy indeed. 
When Ellie was 3 years old it was suggested to us that we try her on the back of a horse and well before she took her few steps, Ellie was introduced to Rea Valley RDA and Gilbert; a fairly rotund pony but extremely tolerant having offered a seat to many a child in similar circumstances to Ellie’s over the years, and the rest they say is indeed history.
Ellie’s balance and core stability improved immensely over the next 18 months and she became brave enough to take her first unaided steps at 5.  She continued to grow in strength and stamina over the following years, and has even met the Princess Royal, thanks to Rea Valley RDA. Her confidence now is tremendous and she is a very happy young lady.
Ellie is now an adult looking forward to her 19th birthday in July 2018 and still goes every week to the RDA at Berriewood for her session with another pony and the willing volunteers. The helpers who sidewalk and guide Ellie around have to have one qualification – a good singing voice as Ellie loves to sing whilst walking around on the back of the pony (or occasionally a light trot).
We often wonder what progress Ellie would have made without the help of RDA although we tend to just dwell now more on the “can do” type approach and be positive. Ellie will always have difficulties doing some “normal” things but her years at Berriewood with the RDA have undoubtedly helped her enormously, and for this we cannot thank them enough.

Shropshire’s Cavalier Centre 
which for so long had been the dream of so many was finally on its way.
The Champagne and chocolate cake may not have said it all, but it was certainly a pointer to the future.  
The Perry Riding School founded by Jane Barker in 1995, has been sited at her Shrewsbury home. The committed president who has been to the county to boost the project is the Marquis of Hertford and so many hopes now rest in the scheme that those involved in achieving it are determined to go the extra mile.
At the formal launch, Catherine, Lady Forester was on hand to cut the first turf. As life vice-president of the Cavalier Centre, she has been a long-time supporter of the exciting undertaking – doubly so because her daughter Selina Graham has been involved from the beginning and is also a trustee of the project which is set to enhance the lives of so many who have mobility challenges but love horses and want to be part of the equine story.
The fundraising is now underway in earnest with some lovely stories of how money has been raised so far. For instance, organisers are delighted that the K12 Challenge has been completed. What’s that?
An initiative called ‘Kids with 12 Months to Complete their Challenge’ involved individuals or groups of young people taking on sporting challenges to raise £1,000 each with the aim to bring in the first £100,000 toward the estimated £1.2m funding which will eventually be needed. And what an incredible example for the future from the children’s amazing initiative.
There is much work involved in completing funding applications and submissions but there is also a huge groundswell of support for the project now and encouragingly, there many people offering support and practical help while Trusts and Foundations have positively expressed their support as well.

A Day out in Park Hall

 Emily Peters, the 15 year old daughter of a rider with the Baschurch & Loppington Group, surprised us all when she revealed she had been chosen as part of her National Citizen Scheme to promote RDA at a major local venue. Driven by her desire "to give RDA something in return for helping mum to get back in the saddle, to have a go and to win at the Nationals", Emily and a small team put on a great display for hundreds of visitors to the Park Hall Farm experience day. "We certainly got the message across as so many people were keen to learn what goes on and  that it IS what you can do that counts. We have truly enjoyed the challenge and the experience of engaging with so many people, it has given me and my friends so much more confidence and our web page has seen some donations too, a bonus but a nice one at that".

Thank You to Emily and her team for getting our message out there.


Shropshire was well represented at the National Championships this year.

We had two successes in the Musical Ride with Baschurch& Loppington coming 2nd in the Unled section and Wolverhampton and East Shropshire 5th  in the Led section.

Perry Group had a very successful weekend. Carys Haskell and Madison Johnston Morris both rode Dylan in the Countryside Challenge and both performed very well.

Perry's individual vaulters Owen Thomas, James Ashby and Blosson Burton all competed on Great Bear with James and Blossom winning their age groups.

The Perry vaulting team was 2nd in the team competition and received the trophy for best turned out horse and team fof the whole competition.

Sadly the two individual dressage riders who had qualified for the Championships, Sarah Price and Jackie Evans were neither of them well enough to attend, we wish them a speedy recovery.

For Brockton Court Diane Field achieved  a very good score oin the Show Jumping on a horse she first met half an hour previously. Many thanks to Penniewells Group for kindly  lending her Brandy as poor Alf was under the weather. Luckily by Sunday Alf was feeling much better and Louise Greer rode him to second place in a very strong Freestyle section and also came third in the Grade 2 Dressage.

Lauren Fitzpatrick, who is a member of both Brockton Court & Baschurch & Loppington Groups was 12th on Roxy from Brockton in a very busy dressage class. This was the first time that she had ridden Roxy in such an exciting (for Roxy!) environment.

Lauren  also  achieved 78% in Horse Care at Advanced Level.

Derwen Group didn't send anyone to the Championships but held a sponsored ride on the last day of term to support Sam Orde's Big Ride. They rode around the tracks at Walford College and raised £150 for the new National Training Centre.

"The Twins" see success in Shropshire.  Success at the Double came to the Fitzpatrick household when "The Twins", Amy and Lauren, were presented with their..................


The girls who ride with the Baschurch & Loppington Group have worked tirelessly over the last few months to complete the scheme requirements as helper volunteers after or during their sessions with the Group.  "You name it, we've done it" said the girls.  "Groom, muck out, tack up and clean, fetch and carry, lead and even washing up the coffee cups have all been on the agenda, whatever has needed to be done really".  It has been hard work and fun for the young riders both of whom have impressed their parents with their commitment to see the challenge through, especially as it has enabled them to help others in their own Group and at Wolverhampton & East Shropshire Group where mum, Tracey, has recently taken over the reins as Chairman. " We are a RDA family through and through and it gives us all so much pleasure."


"...... and it is great to be riding again",  not just a headline but the comments from the 3 riders who were in the saddle at Walford Equestrian Centre, the new home of the Derwen Group.

 The Group which has been running for some 40 years had to do a major re-think last year when Prescott Centre in Baschurch closed its doors. Knowing the demand was still there the team, headed by Liz Mc Brien the Chairman of 6 years, went about finding a new venue with the help of the County and Regional officials.  Walford College was approached and was very leaded to take on and support the Group. The routine has been established quickly and 3 riders enjoy stimulating activity in a first class facility under the guidance of SIAN & ADELE the group coaches.  Encouragement, enthusiasm and energy abounds amongst everyone involved in the Group. Some 18 volunteers, many with over 20 years of loyal service, have capacity to take on more riders should anyone wish to ride on Thursday mornings.

On hand to support her sister Claire Morgan, Beth, was delighted to see how much progress Claire has made. "Riding is a huge passion and Claire truly enjoys her sessions with RDA". "It 's always lots of fun" added Claire.

Pictured left is Ella Pither a recently joined volunteer.  " I come to RDA to help, to learn and gain experience of working with people with a disability.  I hope to go into teaching when I graduate and my time with the RDA can only help with that, and I agree with Claire, it is always fun". TMW

Wolverhampton and East Shropshire Group.

On Tuesday 1st November Diane Clutterbuck, Pippa Walker Tamsin Gibbons and Jo-Ann Hitherland came from the HR departments of several midland factories of CAT (Caterpillar). 

Tamsin had contacted us about Volunteering for a day. The group had discussed the need to paint our store room. 

They carefully rubbed down the exterior and then painted it.  The special zinc based paint was donated by 'Hire This' in Albrighton who supplied the portakabin tack room originally. They finished up by giving a sweep out and tidy to the interior. 

Huge thank you to the girls and to Caterpillar for giving their time and energy. And to our friends from Hire This.  

Welcome to Our New Shropshire County Chair

We are pleased to welcome our new Chairman Jackie Whittle, who is also Brockton Court Chairman.  Jackie has many years equine and admin knowledge to bring to the table having been DC of a Local Pony Club, Welcome.

Farewell and many thanks to Carla Howarth, the outgoing Chairman. 

We thank Carla for all her hard work in bringing Shropshire Groups together and organising fund raising events.  


The first day in November is celebrated as All Saints Day across the world yet in Shropshire the Rea Valley Group celebrated it as "All Smiles Day". The Group, which is based at Berriewood Riding Centre near Condover, operates over 2 days with the "Tuesday Group" being run by Amanda Gamble, a stalwart volunteer for over 11 years and Group Instructor of some 4 years. Ably supported by 13 regular volunteers Amanda oversees sessions for 15 riders who have varying degrees of challenge. Enough to be getting on with on any RDA day. Now add to the mix a visit by the Regional Chairman Anona White in her capacity as Training Advisor to carry out assessments and validations and many could be put off.  Not so for this enterprising team.

Rides with pole work, with games using number and colour recognition were all on display with the smiles and signs of enjoyment a ready feature from the riders and volunteers alike. Watching the ride conducted by Carla Howarth, a Trainee Coach (in addition to being Chairman of the Group), Anona commented on the infectious enthusiasm which came through in the energy and skilled activity shown by the rider/volunteer combinations.   "It is always a pleasure coming to Rea Valley as the Group is very well organised, well equipped and always full of the RDA spirit and I was pleased to upgrade Carla to Assistant Coach as well as confirm Amanda as Group Coach for another 2 years.  Succession planning is a built in aspect of the development of this Group and in many respects the Group is a model for how RDA delivers for so many".

 The Derwen Group 

has just celebrated 40 years of riding.

 The group was originally founded by Lily Morgan and Mary Clay for the students of Derwen College in May 1976. We recently held a celebration for this milestone in the Boathouse in Ellesmere for many of our past and present volunteers. Pat McGregor, our senior instructor, presented long service awards to Ann Edwards and Betty Lawrence who have both volunteered for over 25 years, Maureen Phillips for 20 years, Mary Hazzard and Ann Robinson for over 15 years. Cutting the cake we had three past volunteers, Carol Evans, Beryl Loake and Joyce Younger. The evening was a brilliant opportunity to recognise all the hard work put in by so many volunteers over the 40 years. Many thanks to them all.

Shropshire Holiday

What a pleasure to have attended our County Holiday at Clwyd Special Riding Centre yesterday.  And even more of a privilege to judge and assess riders at the end of an enjoyable few days concentrated activity with awards given out to all 7 riders every one of whom had improved over the 5 days.

Well done to all and keep up the good work  back  in your Groups.

My thanks go to the Shropshire Holiday Committee for arranging the holiday and to the stalwart volunteers who turn out year on year.  Notably, Dulcie Raynor, who travelled south from Scotland and Ann North from East of England again this year.

 A special thanks also goes to the 3 Duke of Edinburgh  award  students, Katie John, Georgina Hackney, Eve Waston  and to Alastair and Gregor Montgomery both boys are on the YELA Scheme and this is the second year we have been lucky enough to have members of North Shropshire Pony Club helping. A truly useful and mutually beneficial  association.

Thank you to all and well done.

Rea Valley are going great guns with a healthy increase in our rider numbers making for vibrant and lively sessions. 

The beneficiaries of Prescott’s closing, we now have the amazing Trudy at Berriewood and all riders have immediately fallen in love with her.

Two of our riders entered the Regional Qualifiers at Stourport and had a marvellous if not challenging day. David Allsop and Rachel Evans entered the Countryside Challenge and Horse Care with Rachel winning the Grade Two Horse Care with an extremely high score. Well Done Rachel!

As the summer break gets ever closer we’re looking forward to our Annual Summer Picnic during the first week in July when all our riders will be tucking into all sorts, as we say good bye until September.

The progress that some riders have made has been great as the new Tracker System which Rea Valley has implemented will hopefully show in due course.

Thank you to all our riders, volunteers and not forgetting the horses!!!

 Shropshire RDA

Following the sad news of Prescott’s impending closure, which will be closing the stable doors for the last time this weekend, April 2016  I am thrilled to announce that all three RDA Groups which rode out of Prescott have found new homes 

 Baschurch will be riding at Stoneyford in Annscroft; Loppington has found a new home, together with Trudi one of the RDA horses who served all groups so well, at Berriewood, Condover

 and Derwen Group is moving to Walford College Equestrian Centre.

Most riders are going with the groups to their new centres but Derwen find that they have spaces for riders and so please get in touch with me or Liz Mcbrien Chairman of Derwen Group ( if you have any riders who would like to ride at Walford college.  

Carla Howarth  

Shropshire County Chair 28/4/16

Happy New Year!

A few photos from Baschurch and Loppington RDA Group Quiz and Christmas Session in December 2015 

 RDA Shropshire Newsletter - September 2015 edition

Please click here to read Shropshire Newsletter

Shropshire RDA Pictures from 2015 

Shropshire County Fun Day 2015

Report & Results

Held on Wednesday 24 June 2015

And so another year goes by and another FunDay comes round.

After a little toing and froing the venue was finalised and Prescott did Shropshire RDA Groups proud with a very well attended Fun Day on the 24th June. Thank you to all the venue organisers for their preparation and help on the day.

Riders from 6 Groups attended and the enthusiasm was palpable and once more the day was a credit to Anona White, RDA’s County and Regional Instructor as she put her organising skills into 5th gear and did us proud once again.

Geoff Glazzard and Lucy Walker were kind enough to come and judge the Musical Ride and award the trophies of which there were many, with many proud recipients receiving them, whilst parents, family and friends joined in the celebrations…..and to all the judges without whom we couldn’t run the Fun Day.

Our Regional Chair Celia Baker came along and kept Lucy and Geoff in check over a very serious couple of hours judging the Musical Rides, which for the first time were submitted on video and a format I think which will be replicated next year.

Baschurch and Loppington triumphed overall as the first placed Group with Derwen coming a close second but all participants gave it their all and there were strong performances from all Groups in the various categories.

Rachel Evans (REA Valley) achieved an outstanding score of 86% in Class 9 Horse Care with Lauren Fitzpatrick (Bas/Lop) equalling her Regional Qualifyingachievements winning her Class in the Countryside Challenge and Lee Bars (Bas/Lop) achieving a very respectable 76.5% in Class 2 CC.

There are so many people to thank but for those not involved in any RDA Group but who gave up their day a huge vote of thank – Hannah Perrins and her team who scored admirably and to Mark for bringing Harvey who was a star.

And so most Groups are finishing for the summer and I would like to add my personal thanks to all Groups for their support in terms of County activities, running their own Groups and to the riders and horses which is why we are here.

Look forward to seeing you all at the County Meeting after the summer break - Date and Time to follow.

Carla Howarth

Shropshire County Chair

Results for 2015 Fun Day:

Shropshire Horse Care

Shropshire Countryside Challenge Class 1

Shropshire Countryside Challenge Class 2 & 3

Shropshire Countryside Challenge Judges Marking Sheet

Shropshire Musical Ride

Shropshire County Team Event



Shropshire County RDA

Click Here to find out what are we all about!

Shropshire Groups Information 

01691 656805

Baschurch & Loppington House Group

Phone Number: 01630 685253

Postcode: SY5 7NN
Email:  or
Brockton Court Group

Phone Number: 01952 502354

Postcode: TF2 7QG
Derwen Group

Phone Number: 01691 238009

Postcode: SY4 2HL
Ludlow & District Group

Phone Number: 01584 810099

Postcode: SY8 2HD


Marches RDA Group

Phone Number: 07487 711340

Postcode: SY10 8LG

Perry Group

Phone Number: 01939 261147
Postcode: TF13 6PE

Rea Valley Group

Phone Number: 01743 761421

Postcode: SY5 7NN


Wolverhampton & East Shropshire Group

Phone Number: 01952 507120

Postcode: TF2 7QG



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