The Princess Royal enjoyed a “rare treat” as she cut a cake to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a Riding for the Disabled (RDA) branch.

RDA president Princess Anne arrived by helicopter to meet young riders from the charity’s Exeter branch, which had recently celebrated its half-century, last Friday (14 July).

The princess was given a tour of Oaklands Riding School after which she and centre owners Joyce and Jacky Newbery watched a display given by nine riders, assisted by 20 RDA volunteers. She then presented each rider with a rosette to mark the occasion.

Having met RDA supporters including representatives of Plymtree Country Fayre and Horse Show, Powderham Castle, Exeter Southernhay Rotary Club and Oaklands Riding School, the princess cut the anniversary cake and unveiled a commemorative plaque.

“It is a rare treat for me to be able to celebrate 50 years as an RDA group because this is one of the oldest groups in the country,” she said.

Riders Sophie Case and Maddie Cavill presented the princess with flowers and a book about Devon.

“It was a great honour for us to have Princess Anne come and visit us,” said Exeter group chairman Bob Gaiger. “It was a really special day for everyone and a great way of thanking all our volunteers and supporters. Without them we would be unable to provide free and safe riding for disabled children in and around Exeter. We are looking forward to our next 50 years!”

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Joyce Newbery added that Oaklands Riding School is “proud to be supporters” of the group.

“Disabled riding is an important part of our equestrian world,” she added. “It was a great honour to have Princess Anne visit again in recognition of all the hard work and dedication that goes into enabling disabled children to ride.”

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