- 1981 The Group was established by Margaret Johnson, and Susan Dudley-Smith, along with Committee Members Mr Freeman, Miss Murray, and Mrs Rook. (Our apologies to the latter 3 persons, as sadly our records do not log their Forenames!) They began the Group with a hefty sum of £9.50 in the Bank!!!! Initially, only Horse Riding was offered to Members, and the Group was based at Bolton, near Pocklington.
- We now have an Annual Event in memory of Margaret Johnson , and as a result of her Charitable work for RDA and other charities, Susan became Dame Susan Dudley-Smith in 2010, an Honour which she so richly deserved!
- 1985 Carriage driving began in Thorganby (between Escrick and Skipwith), whilst the Horse Riding activities continued to operate from Bolton. One carriage especially adapted for wheelchair users was pulled by Shetland Ponies which belonged to Susan Dudley-Smith.
- 1988 Riding activities moved to Kemp Welsh Livery Stables on a temporary basis whilst the Carriage Driving continued at Thorganby. Three riding horses were being used by this time.
- 1990 A new location was found at Willitoft near Bubwith for the Riding Activities of the Group.
- 1991 Our current Group Organiser, Angela Payne became one of the Groups Volunteer Helpers, and children from Riverside School in Goole began to attend.
- 1992 The Group moved to the stables of Frank Hardy at Port Royal in Holme-upon- Spalding –Moor, and Horse numbers rose to 4.
- 1995 Hardacre Stables, owned by Liz Martin became our new home in Shiptonthorpe.
- 1996 Woldhaven Day Centre for adults with learning difficulties began to send 8 riders in this year,and they are still attending today!! ). Sadly, the National School Curriculum was changed in this year, and this prevented Riverside School in Goole from attending any longer. For the first time, the Group`s Carriage Driving and Horse Riding activities took place at one and the same venue.
- 1997 The Group moved temporarily for 1 year to Red House Lane in Market Weighton whilst we looked for a new permanent home.
- 1998 With 5 horses/ponies and 1 carriage, the Group moved to Glebe Farm in Harswell when Angela Payne (current Group Organiser) purchased the farm and gained planning permission for a change to Equine use. The “office” and “tea-room” was located in a caravan on site, which had to be painted in a horrible dark green colour in order to comply with Planning Permission regulations!!
- 2004 An outside “all weather” wood-chip riding arena was installed, and Elvington Plant Hire donated their old prefabricated concrete sectional building to the Group. Sadly during its erection on site, this was badly damaged. However, a new concrete block building was erected to replace it, consisting of 3 stables, a carriage shed, and a tea-room.
- 2006 Our Group acquired a second carriage, just in time for a Royal Visit by National RDA`s Patron, HRH Princess Anne to celebrate the Group`s 25th Anniversary. Harswell will never see another day like this in its history!
- 2007 Founder member, Margaret Johnson sadly died this year but she will never be forgotten for all the hard work and dedication which she gave to our
Group. They truly “threw away the mold” when they made Margaret and we all know there will never be another like her!! Like everyone else in the UK , we had to get through the now infamous floods of this year. Thankfully only the fields at Harswell suffered from flooding, but I swear our ponies grew webbed hooves this year!!
- 2008 New “rubble based” tracks were installed on the farm at Harswell to provide an alternative to riding and carriage driving in the grass and “all weather” outdoor arena`s. Young native broadleaf trees were planted between the various tracks to enhance the riding/driving experience. Carriage Driving in particular benefited from this new safe environment in which to operate and meant that our more ambitious Drivers could go faster!!
- 2010 Our “Smile a Mile” fundraising event took place in July, when we ambitiously took 2 horses, 1 pulling a carriage whilst the other was ridden, and we visited every RDA group in East Yorkshire. The event took 7 days to complete, with Members taking their turns to ride or drive. The two horses, Cookie and Danny were fantastic, covering close to 185 miles, and we raised a staggering £6,345 from Businesses whose premises were situated along the route who were prepared to donate up to £50 per mile. The event took almost 1 year to organise and immense thanks go to chief fundraiser Gail Bentley who contacted the various business owners and persuaded them to part with their cash!!
- 2012 The Pocklington Branch of Sainsbury adopted us as their chosen local charity, and raised a superb total of £4,477 for our Group. Our sincere thanks go to Sainsbury and their fantastic management and staff for all their hard work.
- 2013 In attrocious weather conditions, the Market Weighton Young Farmers came to our aid and spent two days removing the worn out surface of the outdoor “all weather” arena, and laying the new “shredded carpet” surface. With 11 horses/ponies, and 3 carriages (including a 4 wheeled carriage) our Group has come a long way since it`s humble beginnings in 1981. We now have over 40 Volunteer Helpers. (We have never had any paid employees and the Group are proud of this fact.)
- 2014 After 16 memorable and happy years at Glebe Farm in Harswell, it is time to move on. Enter Lesley Dexter at Thornton House Farm, Barmby Moor who has generously and kindly offered the Group a new permanent home. Thank you Lesley, we look forward to enjoying your magnificent facilities including your massive Indoor arena for many years to come.
And Finally (for now at least!)
Thanks to every rider and carriage driver, and volunteer helpers who have attended our sessions since 1981. We hope you have had as much fun and pleasure from our activities as we have! We hope you will continue to do so from 2014 onwards.
We are sure that we will have unintentionally forgotten to mention many people in this article on the History of our Group. If you are one of those important people whom we have omitted to mention, then please accept our apologies.
Please read the “THANK YOU” page of our website for more detailed information on those people who support our Group. We are always immensely grateful to anyone and everyone who has supported, and continues to support Ebor Vale RDA Group. THANK YOU.