General

Christmas Message from the Chair

Dear Volunteers, Riders and Supporters

This year has been an extraordinary challenging and difficult one for all of us. As we reach the end of 2020, we have again had to suspend our riding activities in line with the recently announced Tier 4 restrictions.

 

Though it seems a long time ago, 2020 started brightly for the Group when we hosted the RDA South East Regional Training Day for the first time. Then in March we held our Annual in-house dressage competition, the Harold Newton Trophy. There was a lot to be hopeful and optimistic about.

However, just one week later we had to close our doors to all riding activities as the country went into Lockdown 1. I am so proud of the way our volunteers have responded to the challenges of continuing to look after our ponies and our grounds while we ensure that we maintain a COVID safe
site that complies with the Governments’ regulations. I am mindful of the impact not being able to ride or indeed just being part of the activities at the yard, has both physically and emotionally on our riders, and the consequences this has for families and carers. Our volunteers have stepped up to the challenge of keeping our community of riders, volunteers, families and carers together in spirit with creativity and innovation ranging from Zoom calls with ponies to simple check in telephone calls, and of course the “It Must Be Love” Makaton video. Do take a moment to check out the latest Epsom RDA Christmas themed video production on our Facebook or Instagram pages.

I am enormously grateful to my fellow Trustees for their commitment in tackling the intricacies of the COVID guidelines amid a frequently changing backdrop. They have developed a set of procedures that meant our national body, RDA UK, has the confidence to declare the Group COVID safe enabling
us to re-open at the end of the summer albeit for a limited number of riders. My gratitude too to our Session Leaders and Group Coaches who have had the responsibility of implementing the new ways of working taking on the task with thoughtfulness and diligence while maintaining the warm and welcoming atmosphere that epitomises Epsom RDA.

We end the year with another suspension of our riding activities. No doubt there will be further challenges ahead as with the rest of the country we work our way back towards a more normal life during 2021, but we are determined that we will get our riders back into action as soon as we safely
can. We also continue to plan for the future.

Of course, our challenges are also financial. Our income has dropped critically this year with the loss of a significant amount of ride money and our traditional fundraising activities cancelled. However, we still need to meet the costs of caring for our ponies and the inevitable maintenance costs for our 16-acre site. I am appreciative of the generosity of support both in money and gifts in kind from many people and organisations through this year. We are proactively looking at new ways in which we can generate more income in the months ahead. There will be opportunities for you to help us with this and we will keep you in touch so you can get involved with supporting your Group.

In the meantime, I wish you, your families and friends, a peaceful and safe Christmas.

Ray Lee
Chair