Celebrating the Achievements of 2023

This year has been an absolutely incredible year for RDA and before we say goodbye to 2023, we wanted to a take look back on the incredible achievements of our volunteers, coaches and participants…

January - April


two of our volunteers were named in the first Kings New Years Honours  list: 

  • Evelyn, or Eve, Pattinson was awarded an MBE for charitable services. Eve founded the Eden group in 1980, initially borrowing two ponies to provide carriage driving for adults with Cerebral Palsy. 
  • Susan Anderson, Founder Member of Barton Group Riding for the Disabled in Cambridgeshire, has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to people with disabilities. 


four RDA volunteers were named as coronation champions! They were:

  • Sheila Saner, RDA Honorary Life Vice president, a key member of the NW Regional Committee for many years, and Chair of the Nantwich & District RDA 
  • Carole Peters-Jones & Jonathan Peters-Jones, Morpeth RDA . Carole joined the charity eight years ago and Jonathan six years ago as volunteers. Carole is now one of the coaches and both are trustees. 
  • Anne Banks-Welsh, from Saxon RDA whose hard work on proficiency, ASDAN and Tea with a Pony has been recognised in a very special way. 


For the first time in 2 years, RDA welcomed a new Group! Onley Grounds RDA officially opened!



Three of our volunteers were named in the first The Birthday Honours are awarded as part of the King’s Birthday celebrations. They were:

  • Jane Barker received an MBE for services to charity and people with disabilities. 
  • Karen Bullock received a BEM for services to charity and disabled people in Syndale
  • Catherine McCully received a BEM for services to charity and people with disabilities in Canterbury, Kent with over 50 years to the Cobbes Meadow Group.

Later in the month…

RDA riders shone at the Special Olympics World Games – winning 11 medals! 

  • East Region riders Christopher Bradley  and Philip Palmer won Gold and Silver 3 A Level events: Dressage,  English Equitation and Working Trails 
  • Millie Boult won gold and Lauren White (both from Avon RDA) won Silver in B Level Dressage. In English Equitation, Lauren won Gold and in Working Trails, Lauren won Gold and Millie, Bronze. 





Our Annual Award winners were announced! They were…

  • Sheila Barnett from Ravelrig RDA, won Participant of the Year. Since joining, she has thrown herself into all group activities and is now a coach in training.
  • Matt Dalley, won the RDA UK Volunteer of the Year.  Matt started as a participant and is now the Regional Publicity Officer for the North Midlands. 
  • Ruby Grimshaw from Mid Sussex RDA won Volunteer of the Year. She always shows dedication and commitment to her group.
  • Cara Edwards, from Ravelrig, won Young Volunteer of the year. Her Group describes her as someone who is always willing to go the extra mile. 
  • Saxon the horse won Equine of the Year.  Saxon RDA, can depend on (aptly named) Saxon for any kind of rider as he’s a “one-in-a-million”. 

Our National Championships took place in July! Congratulations to every participant and volunteer that took part in making it the best weekend possible!

On the same weekend of our National Championships, RDA participant Philippa George, from Park Lane, performed the coin toss at the Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles Final on Centre Court ! Read more about Philippa here. 



In September were the Annual horsescotland awards, which is an opportunity to thank the Scottish equestrian sector for their dedication and to recognise their achievements throughout the previous year.

  • Ravelrig RDA, Club of the Year. Ravelrig has been running for 37 years, growing from one pony in the field to a well established group with 12 volunteer coaches and over 100 volunteers.
  • Millie Boo Smith from Equipower RDA, Equestrian photo of the year. “I enjoy taking photos and experimenting with different styles. I wanted to take a photo of Sally’s eye to  see myself reflected in her eye and was delighted on how it turned out.”
  • Anna Kozicki from Ravelrig RDA, Volunteer of the Year. Anna started volunteering 12 after not receiving a placement as a participant. She persevered and became a volunteer and 21 years on she continues to be a key member of the team.
  • Lottie LeJeun from Isle of Mull RDA, Youth Volunteer of the Year. Lottie made an outstanding contribution to her group and raised funds for an all-weather arena. She applied for grants, and painted horseshoes,  all in aid of her group.

Also a huge congratulations to Thornton Rose RDA, Jo Newens from Ravelrig RDA and Millie Boo Smith for receiving nominations.

November - December


The Coaching Awards recognised the dedication and development of RDA coaches. Congratulations to:

  • Vicky Garside, Leeds Area RDA – The Extra Mile Award. Vicky is a dedicated member of her group who always puts others before herself.
  • Lauren Webb, REACH RDA, New Coach of The Year.  Lauren has found her calling at RDA.
  • Emily Thorpe, Cranleigh Group, Coach Mentor of the Year. Emily has gone above and beyond in mentoring coaches, supporting them every step of the way . 
  • Hannah Spring, Stratford upon Avon RDA, Young Coach of the Year. Hannah has made a lasting impact and the group are very lucky to call her one of their own. 
  • Anneli Jeynes, Mount Pleasant RDA, Coach of the Year. Since Anneli started at RDA 34 years ago, she provides outstanding support as a coach.

Later in the month congratulations are due to:

  • Volunteers at The Cavalier Centre who have been honoured with the King’s Award for Voluntary Service!
  • Anne Coney was awarded The Birt Spooner Cup for her outstanding support of RDA through her countless RDA roles.
  • All competitors  who took part in our third Virtual National Championships.


Congratulations to Dawn Whitmore-Kirby on winning the UK Coaching Change a Life Award (supported by Sport England). She has led riders to regional, national, and Special Olympics success.