Blind driving enthusiast’s £42,000 RDA legacy

  • A disabled carriage-driving enthusiast who was “besotted” with horses shocked his local Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) group by leaving it a £42k legacy.

    The Ceffyl Du driving group, which is based in Cwmbran, Wales, received the cheque bequeathed by 80-year-old Colin Morgan at its Christmas party in December.

    Colin, who was blind and had learning difficulties, had previously been in a ridden RDA group before joining Ceffyl Du in 1995, remaining a regular attendee until the mid-2000s.

    “Colin had to stop coming to the group because of ill health but we’d stayed in touch and when his advocate Carole [Brangham] told us he’d died, some of us went to the funeral. Carole told us then we were getting a legacy but we had no idea how much,” said the group’s fundraiser Hilary Lipscombe.

    “We were expecting a small amount and were delighted he’d remembered us but it turned out to be a large amount — finding out did liven the Christmas party up a bit!”

    Hilary said Colin used to love spending time with the ponies and enjoyed going out for drives.

    “Because he was blind he used to like to smell and feel the horses,” she said. “When we drove he always wanted you to go faster because he loved the feel of the wind.”

    Carole, who helped Colin make his will, said horses had been an immediate choice when he had to pick a beneficiary.

    “Colin had quite severe learning difficulties, and his limitations in understanding were quite high, so I just said to him ‘Colin, if you had money to give to anyone who would you give it to?’ and he said ‘horses’, which was wonderful,” she said.

    “Even before I met him they’d been part of his life. I took him riding in a ménage with a teacher and also on a friend’s horse who I used to ride,” she added.

    “He absolutely loved horses, he loved to touch their manes and their noses and loved to smell them. He was born with no eyes, so his sense of smell was very important to him.”

    Carole said she was thrilled the money was going to Ceffyl Du, which had always impressed her not just with practical knowledge but also their love for the people they were working with.

    “It didn’t matter what the disability was, it wasn’t about what they couldn’t do, it was what they could do,” she said.

    The Ceffyl Du group, Carriage Driving Magazine RDA Group of the Year 2018, currently owns one pony and also loans another for its weekly sessions and Hilary said Colin’s legacy had taken the pressure off running costs.

    “We are a very small group and we do our own fundraising, so this has given us some security,” she said. “We always have to make sure we have enough in the bank to take care of the pony. We always had to fundraise for that and then also for any other costs, and it’s taken all that worry away.

    “We haven’t had much time to discuss what else we will do with the money but we will certainly do something to make sure Colin is remembered,” she added.

    The group’s limited number of volunteers means it can currently cater for six drivers, although up to 12 have been able to participate in the past. Hilary hopes the legacy will also spur a recruitment drive for more volunteers.

    “Now we have the financial security we’d love to get more people on board so we can open it up to new drivers who haven’t had the opportunity,” Hilary added.

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    Carole also said she had hoped the legacy would boost numbers.

     “I am 74 and a lot of the volunteers are a similar age. You can’t go on with physical things for ever so I m hoping this might bring some younger people forward,” she said.

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