Princess Anne launches life-changing academy to mark 50 years of RDA support

  • The Princess Royal has opened a new national coaching academy for the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), which aims to increase the number of advanced coaches — and the number of people the charity can support.

    RDA president Princess Anne officially launched the new initiative on Friday (5 November), at the RDA national training centre in Warwickshire.

    “The Princess Royal Coaching Academy recognises the importance of high-performing coaches working with disabled riders,” an RDA spokesman said.

    “The initiative will increase the number of coaches moving to advanced training, which in turn will increase the number of disabled people RDA can support, helping to tackle waiting lists and unmet demand for its services at groups all over the UK.”

    The princess spoke to RDA volunteers, coaches and staff about the trailblazers of RDA coaching.

    “It was that early understanding and example of standards that has made the organisation what it is,” she said. “And for those of you who have followed in those footsteps and developed in your own ways in your own groups and in your own areas, there is a huge amount we have learned.

    “I hope you will agree that the coaching academy is an appropriate use of that experience – and will make all of that experience go a little bit further, to encourage more people to take their places in the RDA, and to make that change for each of those individuals that they come across.”

    The academy is named after the Princess Royal, on the 50th anniversary of her becoming the RDA’s patron, in 1971. She became president in 1985.

    RDA chief executive Ed Bracher said the charity was “enormously excited” about the launch of the academy.

    “Our coaches lie at the heart of the RDA’s work and through the academy, we aim to nurture talent, innovation and excellence,” he said.

    “This is a core part of our plan to dramatically increase the number of disabled people we can support by our 60th anniversary in 2029. We are delighted that the Princess Royal has agreed to lend her name to the academy, 50 years after she first became involved with RDA.”

    Philanthropist John Studzinski CBE, said he was delighted to support the academy’s first two years.

    “The academy will strengthen the RDA’s provision of training and support for its volunteers, coaches and mentors,” he said.

    “Ultimately this will provide an even better experience for all the disabled children and adults the charity helps. I first got to know about the RDA over 10 years ago and was immediately struck by the value of its work. For me, above all else, RDA brings human dignity to people, which is a recurring theme across my philanthropic interests.”

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