Royal Day for Argyll RDA Driving Group

HRH The Princess Royal, President of Riding for the Disabled, enjoyed an equestrian day out in glorious sunshine at Benderloch, near Oban, on Tuesday 9 July, visiting the Argyll RDA Driving Group and watching a training session at the group’s new arena, built last year.

Eleven year-old Jessica Turnbull of Dunoon received her first carriage driving lesson under the watchful eye of Her Royal Highness. (Jessica suffers from a rare genetic disorder that affects her speech, balance and development. She rides regularly with the Woodside RDA Group.)

“It was fun,” said Jessica. “I was nervous before we started, but then it was okay. I felt special meeting a princess.”

Three other drivers (all regulars at the Driving Group) demonstrated their carriage driving skills: Donald MacDonald, Davina Plank and Lorraine Smart. They were accompanied by RDA Whips Vivienne Price and Penny Dixon.

Princess Anne presented rosettes to all the RDA drivers, and to their two horses Red and Bramble.

Jane Isaac, Organiser of the Argyll RDA Driving Group, said they were delighted to receive a royal visit, which they felt recognised the strength of local support for the group. “We’re in a fairly remote area, but in the eight years since we started we now have 14 regular members driving in our twice-weekly sessions, supported by five RDA Whips and a team of 12 wonderful helpers.” The Group also travels away regularly to Scottish competitions and the annual Carriage Driving summer holiday.

Her Royal Highness also presented Carriage Driving Achievement Badges to 24 members of the Lettershuna Pony Club Centre and the North Argyll Pony Club. Joyce Buick was presented with her Stable Management Certificate from North Highland College, and Claire MacPherson received a Saltire Award for her 200 hours of voluntary work with the RDA Driving Group.

Group organiser Jane Isaac, previously a Pony Club District Commissioner and organiser of the BE Inveraray event, as well as currently serving as President of the local Branch of the Pony Club and RDA County Chairman, is keen to promote the integration of equine sports in the region.

“We don’t have enough people or money to be exclusive in a rural area. Our local Pony Club members are our future helpers and Whips, and often their parents become involved in the Driving Group as well. We wouldn’t exist without our very committed Trustees and all our hardworking volunteers.”

Page Last Updated: July 17, 2013