Helen Dixon

Ride High from a volunteer’s viewpoint

The minibus has arrived and out pour a lively bunch of children. Into the changing room, school bags down, riding kit on, and we’re set. Well nearly… “I need the loo”  “Can I ride a big horse today?”  “Want to hear my joke?” “Guess what happened in school today” “I can’t find the hat I like”  “hurry up Josh you’re taking ages to get changed, we want to go!”  

I came across Ride High some years ago through my work and now I spend a few spare hours a week helping out with one of the younger groups. I have worked with horses and children and young people over many years and can really appreciate the good work Ride High is doing.

 “When can we gallop?” “I am scared today and don’t want to ride!”  One group member is unusually quiet. “Anything wrong?” I ask. Shoulders shrug, no reply but gets on and rides in silence.

All the children are making good progress in handling the ponies as well as riding. They are learning that listening and concentrating produces result, an important lesson for other aspects of their lives!

“I trotted without holding the saddle!”  “I did that by myself” “I can canter” Big smiles all round.

In the club room this group are learning how treating each other and the adults around them with respect and kindness means others treat them the same way. They are starting to work together as a group as well as getting more confident individually to complete club room activities. These are important skills that the children can use at home, in school and with friends.

“I will help Amy finish his picture” “Look at what I made!” “Thank you for collecting all the pens up” – “that’s OK I like to help”

The ‘unusually quiet’ child still looks unhappy but a chat with the group leader about something that happened earlier in school has resulted in a smile once more!

And so back to the changing room and minibus to go home…..

“Don’t run in the yard!”  “Have you put your boots and hat back?” “Well done everyone, good efforts all round today, keep it up!” 

“Can I be dropped off first?” “I want that seat!”

I look forward to helping out each week and getting to know the children. It is very rewarding to see their progress and I admire the Ride High staff’s stamina working with so many different groups of all ages through the week. At least I get time to recover in between!!

Keep up the good work Ride High.

Pam Curtis
Ride High Volunteer

Riding high in a different saddle!

I’m Brad West and I am cycling the Prudential RideLondon Challenge in July. This involves me cycling 100 miles from London-Surrey. ‘He must be mad’ I hear you say! Well, although this has crossed my mind on more than one occasion I am completely motivated by the fact that I’ve chosen to do this nutty challenge for a fantastic charity: Ride High.

Although I already had a good understanding of how Ride High helps disadvantaged children, visiting some of the children at the Ride High centre earlier this year really bought it to life for me. I spoke to children who face incredible challenges every day and for whom Ride High offers a safe and secure environment where they can learn and have fun and build confidence and resilience to face the outside world. One child told me ‘Ride High is the only thing I do, it gets me through the week and makes me feel happy’. I watched the kids in their riding lesson, I saw their faces light up in the saddle and I sat with the kids and helped them make posters in the clubroom. I’m sure that for those two hours they felt like all their worries and cares had been lifted.

Here I am with some of the Ride High children during my visit to the centre

And so… I am throwing myself into the training with the knowledge that my efforts (and pain!) will make a real difference to these kids lives. My training started in the pool back in February – I had to ease myself in gently as I haven’t ridden for 12 months! I then faced my first setback in April when I had a nasty chest infection and nagging cough… however never fear, the sun came out and now the riding bug has started to take hold! Training isn’t always easy. A near fatal motorbike accident a few years ago means my joints ‘ain’t what they used to be’…. but I will keep going for Ride High.

Taking on this challenge isn’t an entirely selfless act, whilst my driving motivation is the children at Ride High, RideLondon is also an opportunity for me to get fit and get back on the bike. Personal and team challenges like this are brilliant for morale and general health and wellbeing. You don’t have to cycle 100 miles either – there are all sorts of challenges out there and I’d recommend everyone to set themselves a goal. You’ll feel brilliant when you achieve it!

In addition to the training I’m working hard to fundraise and I’m pleased to say that it is going well! I have managed to raise £622.50 (including gift aid), towards my target of £1000 which is excellent. My colleagues, friends and family are being extremely supportive offering encouragement and sponsorship! Any donation, however small will be really appreciated. You can view my page here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/BradWest33.

I even look the part in my Ride High t’shirt now!