University of St Andrews: University Community Fund steps up to support riding for disabled charity

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A North East Fife charity that has been changing the lives of disabled people across the local area since 1976 has been supported in its bid to modernise its facilities by the University of St Andrews Community Fund.

From its base at Balcormo Stud near Leven, East Fife and Scooniehill Riding for the Disabled (RDA) works with local primary schools, adult day centres and individuals to share the benefits of riding therapy.

The group is run and supported by a team of hardworking volunteers who are involved in many aspects of the charity, including hands-on work with horses and riders to fundraising initiatives and education.

Since its move to Balcormo, the charity has been fundraising to create a multi-functional outdoor area to be used for non-ridden horse therapy as well as ridden therapy in order to broaden the range of activities offered and extend the charity’s reach in the wider community. Chair, Group Coach and volunteer Aileen Jones said that, thanks to a grant from the University Community Fund, work has gathered pace.

Aileen added: “We are also working on the creation of an indoor classroom and demonstration area which, when complete, will provide us with a safe and accessible space to carry out non-ridden horse therapy sessions in an undercover area. Again, our intention is to broaden our activities to the benefit of the wider community. The grant provided us with the money to purchase craft supplies, clipboards and a whiteboard, which will be utilised in this area as well as in our outdoor area.”

Aileen went on to explain that the work won’t end there, with work beginning to replace the stables with new accessible stabling which will provide volunteers and participants with a safe environment.

In addition to the immediate benefits of being able to spend time with the horses and learning new skills, RDA involvement can also result in once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for participants.

Frances Cape, Head Coach at Scooniehill RDA, Fife Equestrian Team Head Coach and named Disability Coach of the Year, explained: “In 2010 ten of my riders took part in the Special Olympics in Leicester. I was delighted that so many of them, including Andrew Hunter, returned with silver and bronze medals.”

The charity has around 50 volunteers including students from the University of St Andrews.

Professor Dame Sally Mapstone said: “East Fife and Scooniehill RDA is a wonderful charity helping so many disabled, vulnerable and disadvantaged groups and the development of the outside space will help them expand the range of services they can offer. It has been fantastic to meet everyone and see how the University Community Fund donation has made a difference.

“I am also delighted that our students are contributing to the wider University community and gaining valuable experiences that volunteering can bring.”

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