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News & Updates

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Armed with collection buckets four of our volunteers raised an amazing £437 on a cold November afternoon.  Many thanks to everyone who contributed on the 6th November 2023 at Plumpton races.

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Many thanks goes to Adrian Langford and Derek Roper who presented us with a very generous donation of £6,500.  

A big THANK YOU to Sussex Community Foundation


Our grant was made up of funding from the Britton Family Fund, the Arthur and Doreen Green Fun and the Rooney Foundation Fund at Sussex Community Foundation.  A heartfelt thank you for supporting us through 2023.

Birthday Wishes

Happy Birthday to Jenny, one of our longest serving volunteers, who celebrated a milestone birthday this month at The Sportsman in Goddard's Green, Hassocks.

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Many thanks for your generous contribution towards William!


Participant of the Year Award


"In recognition of her enthusiasm and delight in riding as well as her interest & encouragement of others"

Zia Hussein

After being on the waiting list for over a year Zia was delighted to take up a cancellation space in October 2019 and accepted a permanent place a month later.  Zia was  in her final year of university when multiple sclerosis was diagnosed.  She said it "stole my independence, my mobility and my confidence"  Now she walks with great difficulty, with two sticks and uses a wheelchair.  Our hydraulic lift was ideal for mounting.  Balance in the saddle was  difficult for Zia as her core muscle strength was extremely poor and both legs were weak, especially the right one.  We needed two side walkers and a volunteer walking behind to continuously check her position, because her whole body swung from side to side as the horse moved.  There was a concern that we might not be able to help her.  Yet she enjoyed this first lesson so much, and promised that she would practise the exercises given to her to do at home, we felt we should persevere.


Just as we were beginning to see improvements Covid struck and Zia was upset that riding had to stop. 

Once we were allowed to have independent riders with one bubble member or carer, we brought Zia back for a trial,and using her carer husband on the hydraulic platform and then as a side walker, we decided it was safe. She had been doing her home exercises and was so delighted to be back.  Her smile made us all feel better. 


Despite the gaps in lessons because of the lockdowns, Zia made incredible progress.  Her side tilting disappeared and she managed a beautifully balanced sitting trot (led).  She bought a small mechanical saddle on which to practise her exercises at home.  It was Zia’s enthusiasm and her delight in riding, her interest and encouragement to other riders that impressed us all.  Zia picks up with gratitude any rider cancellations that appear, often at the last minute.  


Here are her words:  "It was a fantastic feeling, going from 3ft off the ground to 7ft.  My posture is now positive and erect (impressing my physiotherapist) and I have good balance.  My overall confidence is boosted  and I come away with a feeling of accomplishment and achievement.  When I am riding I am free!"  No wonder Zia makes us all feel proud. 

Volunteer of the Year Award

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"In recognition for her tireless dedication"

Ruby Grimshaw

Ruby joined Mid Sussex RDA in 2011 as an already very experienced BHSAI Coach and soon became a RDA Coach.  She has also been our Chair for the last 6 years.


Ruby works tirelessly for the benefit of the Group in and out of hours.  She was a tower of strength during COVID, arranging weekly Zoom Meetings to keep everyone in touch and working very hard when it was time to return, getting riders and volunteers organised, along with all the required extra paperwork and making sure everyone knew what was required of them under very difficult circumstances.  We were one of the first Groups to return.


Recently she oversaw the purchase of a new horse (William) for our Group, taking almost sole responsibility for the purchase and subsequent arrangements and necessary checks and paperwork involved in what was quite a huge step for us as a Group. 


She really is the best Coach and the riders (and volunteers) all enjoy her lessons and she always keeps everyone on their toes whilst also injecting her own form of humour into her coaching.

Sapphire Long Service Award

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Jenny was one of the first members of the Mid Sussex RDA and helped to set it up in the late '60s.  She was the cornerstone of the group, calm and dependable, always dispensing practical advice and very knowledgeable about horses and their welfare.


Jenny has been coaching all this time since then and so helpful and kind to newcomers.  Jenny has a wonderful sense of humour and is a delight to have around.


Although she has decided to step back from coaching now it is a relief to our group that she will stay on as a volunteer. It is so reassuring to know there is someone with such experience and knowledge watching our backs.  She never misses a trick!

"In recognition of 45 years with RDA."

Our stall at Ditchling Fair was a roaring success!!  We raised around £550 which will buy lots of hay and carrots for William.

The Fair's theme was Joy & Jubilation and with the sun shining it certainly was a magical fun day.  Our naughty pantomime horse, Shergar escaped into the crowd and got up to all sorts but thankfully stayed away from the bakes.  

A very big thank you to our riders, carers, volunteers, family, friends and neighbours who baked their way through the heatwave.   We had a wonderful supply of cakes, biscuits and bread.  A special thank you goes to Emma and Kitty who added their sparkle to our stall by providing glitter tattoos.  

Congratulations to the winner (Hester) of our Summer Picnic Hamper in the raffle.

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Project Horse - William our new addition

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Caroline Runs Brighton Half Marathon

A big thank you to Caroline, our newest Group Coach for running the Brighton half marathon on Sunday 27th February, a chilly but sunny day to raise funds for us. 

Well done!!


Looking back at 2021

What a different year this last one has been, compared to 2020!  We have continued to maintain Covid precautions at the stables but rider attendance has been very good, despite the unavoidable self-isolation incidents, and we have had a very busy and exciting year. 

Caroline passed her instructor`s assessment with flying colours and became a Group Coach, so we now have five coaches in total. Our new young riders have come on in leaps and bounds and ride for the most part without a leader or side walker. 

We now need to purchase our own pony and therefore, we have been focusing very much on fundraising and were pleased to receive £1,500 from Hall and Wood House Community Chest, over £800 from the Pyecombe Golf Club, £500 from Sussex Community Foundation and Caroline bravely completed the Brighton Half Marathon and raised over £1000 for us.

We were very pleased and proud to welcome our new addition, William, a handsome piebald pony, to join the Mid Sussex RDA at Chestnuts. I am sure his cheeky nature will make him a great favourite with the children.  

I think we can look forward to another exciting year.

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Southern Water Retirement Club

Thank you to Robin Livett and Southern Water Retirement Club for their generous donation.

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Hall & Woodhouse Community Chest

Sincerest thanks to the Woodhouse family for their kind support.  We received a lovely cheque for £1,500!!

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Purple Fund at Sussex Community Foundation

Thank you to the Purple Fund at Sussex CommunityFoundation for your kind grant award of £500.

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Dyke Golf Club

Many thanks to Tony & the members of Dyke Golf Club for their generous donation.

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Looking back at 2020

The year 2020 has been very a disappointing and frustrating one for the Mid Sussex RDA, as it has been for so many people.  On 13th March we closed our group because of the threat of the Covid 19 virus.  During lockdown it was considered important that we should keep all our volunteers and coaches aware of what was happening with our group, so regular Zoom meetings were held.  These became times when our members could keep in touch and share news with each other.  We also held our  Plant Sale on line, which produced funds of over £900. 
Later in the year RDA headquarters set out the rules and regulations regarding Covid and keeping safe.  These were needed to be in place if we wanted to reopen our group.  Several volunteers were vulnerable or were self isolating and felt unable to return, but many were keen to get back to work with the horses and riders.  Intense training days were held at Chestnuts in order for us all to learn the new ways of working so that everybody, riders and volunteers, would be safe when we returned. 

We received a lot helpful information and encouragement from RDA Headquarters and on 4th August were able to reopen when we welcomed back a single  excited rider.  Social distancing meant that a rider needed to be independent and could only have one side walker, who had to be the carer, parent or in their bubble.  One piece of good news at this time was that Caroline, one of our volunteers, had decided to start her training to become a coach. 

We managed to get back seven delighted  riders before we received the depressing news in November of a new lockdown.  Our hopes of returning in the New Year on January 5th were also dashed.  However, we eventually restarted in March and now have twelve riders.  Let`s hope that  2021 is going to be a  wonderful year for the Mid Sussex.  I think we all deserve it!

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Looking back at 2019

The last year has been a busy one for Mid Sussex RDA. In April our Annual Plant and Cake Sale at Warninglid, run by Sue Ball one of our riders, raised nearly £900 for our funds.  (This year it will be held on April 25th in Warninglid Village Hall).

Our 50th Anniversary on June 20th was a huge success, largely due to the work and enthusiasm of all our volunteers.  Adults and children rode in musical games and all were presented with rosettes by the Mayor, Councillor Alex Phillips.  Presentations were made to our founder member, Judy Case, to our Treasurer, Martin Widdowson and to the owners of Chestnuts, Sue and Richard Hazelden, who have given our group so much help and support over the last eight years.

Social events last year included an interesting visit to Bradbourne Equestrian Centre, a tour of Bolney Vineyard, the  chairman's tea party and two coffee mornings at Rushfields Garden Centre.  We also introduced a one and a half hour`s hack for volunteers after the session on Thursday and these rides proved very popular.  Christmas was celebrated by a lovely lunch at the Bolney Stage.

Three new instructors passed their assessments during 2019, so as we now have five coaches and a full quota of volunteers we hope to extend our riding hours by adding another session on Tuesday afternoon.  This is very exciting.  We are looking forward to having another busy year with our riders and horses, but we can't do it all without our wonderful team of hard working volunteers.

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50th Anniversary

On the 20th June 2019 the Mid Sussex RDA spent a wonderful Fun Day celebrating their 50th Anniversary  at Chestnuts Riding School in Pyecombe,  just outside Brighton.  The Mayor of Brighton and Hove, MEP, Councillor Alex Phillips attended.

Children from  3 local special schools,  Hill Park, Woodlands Meed and Downs View showed their riding skills by trotting, performing exercises and playing musical games.  The Mayor presented each one with a certificate and 2 rosettes. ​​

It was a very happy day for everybody.  A splendid way to celebrate 50 years of continual service by the Mid Sussex RDA.

An original Founder member, and still a serving member, Judy Case, was given a special award for her 50 years Service while Sally Yonge, Rosie Naillard and Martin Widdowson were presented with individual Endeavour Awards by the Mayor for their work for the Mid Sussex.   Finally the proprietors  of Chestnuts Riding School were thanked by the Chairman Ruby Grimshaw for all the support  they had given over the last 8 years to the Mid Sussex Group.  They always supplied the group with gentle suitable horses and ponies, and gave their unstinted support.

After a splendid lunch The Mayor cut the  special 50th Birthday cake before she had to leave.  She said that it had been a wonderful experience and she had been impressed by the warmth and enthusiasm shown by all the riders and volunteers.

In the afternoon, 3 adult disabled riders from the Tuesday riding session, plus a carer who had not ridden before, took part in a general class. All were given certificates and rosettes.

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