Morpeth RDA enjoying new chapter at Northumberland College site

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The Morpeth branch of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) believes there is a “great potential for expansion” at its new home.

The registered charity gives people with special needs and disabilities the chance to enrich their lives through riding specially-trained ponies.

The group moved its activities and ponies to the industry-leading Equine Centre at Northumberland College’s Kirkley Hall Campus in 2023 and, following a transition period to ensure a smooth relocation from its previous premises, it continues to provide life-changing experiences for the group’s 100-plus members.

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It has also hosted a series of events for SEND schools in the county and to engage with the wider community.

Marc Dawson and Elizabeth Cockburn with Morpeth RDA volunteers.Marc Dawson and Elizabeth Cockburn with Morpeth RDA volunteers.
Marc Dawson and Elizabeth Cockburn with Morpeth RDA volunteers.

Michelle Macaulay, chair of Morpeth RDA, said: “We’re excited with this new chapter in the history of Morpeth RDA.

“There is great potential for expansion of RDA activities at Kirkley and we hope to be able to offer riding and horse care sessions to more participants in 2024.”

Following discussions between Morpeth RDA, Northumberland County Council, Active Northumberland and the college to review existing services, the decision was made to relocate to the Kirkley Hall Campus’ specialist education centre – which includes an indoor arena, mechanical horse training apparatus, outdoor arenas, schooling fields, stabling and paddocks.

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To ensure maximum inclusivity and accessibility for disabled riders, the council has financed the upgrading of the facilities and areas dedicated to Morpeth RDA lessons and ponies, supporting the future growth ambitions of the charity.

Northumberland College's Equine Centre at Kirkley Hall Campus.Northumberland College's Equine Centre at Kirkley Hall Campus.
Northumberland College's Equine Centre at Kirkley Hall Campus.

In addition, the local authority’s property team successfully managed improvements works to the covered all weather school and the stabling accessible toilets and walkways are now complete and being fully utilised by the RDA.

More than 125 riders aged between four and 67 travel from all over the county and beyond to attend the group’s riding lessons that encourage co-ordination, develop muscle strength and build self-confidence. Many of the group’s riders have participated in national RDA events with considerable success.

For example, riders Elizabeth Cockburn and Marc Dawson recently achieved second and fourth places for dressage in the RDA National Virtual Championships.

For more information about participating or volunteering with Morpeth RDA, email [email protected] or call 01670 841277.