Meet some of the people at Ravelrig Riding for the Disabled
Barbara Johnstone, MBE – Trustee and Organiser
I became involved initially with Riding for the Disabled when we took the family pony to Gogarburn Hospital to join in the activities of the Hospital’s RDA Group. The family and pony were embraced into the activities of the Group – weekly riding sessions, RDA competitions and a one-off event called Horseman Sunday – a religious open air service in the Queen’s Park, rows and rows of horses and ponies, the Minister in full clergy regalia only to disrobe at the end of the service to reveal full riding gear. I guess Gogarburn was responsible for me getting the bug.
Some thirty years ago I later worked at Barnardo’s Ravelrig and was allowed to stable and graze the family horse within the old Victorian stable block and grounds and when the children resident within Barnardo’s showed an interest in riding, a couple of horse owners decided to set up a Riding for the Disabled Group and, as they say, the rest is history.
In all my working life I never worked so hard or felt so pressurised as I do volunteering with Ravelrig but I wouldn’t have it any other way – I love it, what a buzz! I can honestly say I enjoy all aspects – caring for the ponies, meeting with riders and their parents, organising events and fundraising, supporting and training volunteers and working with corporate and community work parties. While I maintain my qualification, coaching is not something I particularly enjoy now, but maintain it to take over in the absence of the regular coach.
Alan Taylor – Trustee
After spending 37 years in the construction industry, I retired in September 2016 from being the Director of a national social housing provider. Earlier in my career I was involved in the construction of several prestigious projects and more recently was responsible for the construction of over 3,000 houses throughout the central belt of Scotland.
Having done what I believe to be “my bit for Scottish construction”, I now spend most of my time in the garden, the gym, walking and cycling, and don’t quite understand how I had time to work before!
However, my family and I (both kids have been volunteers and riders) also live locally to Ravelrig stables, and took an interest in their new development of the indoor arena. I was initially asked to join the Development Team to offer any advice I may be able to give with my experience of the construction industry, but was then asked to become a full Trustee of the RDA, which I gladly accepted.
I believe RDA Ravelrig faces similar challenges of most businesses, which is why it is important to acknowledge Ravelrig is run by volunteers and donations, so to achieve goals and targets it requires everyone to pull together and work as a team.
I’m not really a “horsey” person ( …although most people would go to Las Vegas to gamble, I did go horse riding in Red Rock Canyon!), but I do love the outdoors and living in a semi-rural environment, so getting involved and being part of the decision-making of the stables will be a bonus. It’s good to be part of an organisation who have the desires and capabilities to be even more successful in providing the much needed service they already deliver – albeit, mostly in the rain! It’s exciting times for RDA Ravelrig.
Jacky Chalmers – Chair of Development Group
I am a retired architect, having worked in Edinburgh, latterly for The National Trust for Scotland, and then for the Scottish Parliament before retiring in 1996
I started at Ravelrig in the Spring 1997, to pick poo (as one does!) and help with whatever tasks were required of me.
I am Chair of the Development Group, working with the Trustees and our Design Team to bring our dream of an indoor riding arena to fruition. Like others before me have found, Ravelrig just sucks you in because you respect the work that they do and want to be part of it – both the good times and the challenging times!
The biggest challenge is fundraising – something that was completely outwith my experience or comfort zone before I joined Ravelrig. The lows of a rejected funding application, however, are more than made up for when organisations like the Robertson Trust, The Peoples Postcode Lottery and SportScotland come on board with 6 figure donations.
Outwith Ravelrig, enjoying the company of friends and family (especially grand daughters!) is one of the pleasures of retirement. However, some of the best times are spent on my horse, Pepsi, either training, competing or hacking – that’s my time!