The Horse Rangers Association — which is preparing to celebrate a milestone anniversary — welcomed its patron, Princess Michael of Kent, to its annual carol service held at The Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace earlier this month (Sunday, 8 December).
After the service, the Princess, accompanied by her husband visited the nearby home of the Horse Rangers to join a Christmas party with 170 guests, rangers, parents and volunteers in the drill hall.
The children’s charity, which operates like the Scouts or Guides but with horses, celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2014.
It was started by businessman Raymond Gordon in his fields in Shepperton. In 1963 it moved to current premises in the Royal Mews at Hampton Court Palace.
There are now seven squadrons, two of which are dedicated to special needs children, and operate under the guidelines of the Riding for the Disabled Association.
The 400 young riders, aged 8 to 16 years, have access to 30 horses and ponies. They are supported by a volunteer force of 200 including officers and instructors, many of whom were Horse Rangers themselves.
Denis Mulliner, canon of the Chapel Royal at the Royal household, led Sunday’s service and 11 year-old, Mathew Sheppard from Thames Ditton presented the Princess with flowers.
Horse Rangers trustee chairman, Richard Bevan, said: “The carol service has been an annual feature in our calendar for many years.
“This year’s event was made doubly special by the visit of our Patron, who has always been a strong supporter of our activities, and the fact that it begins our year of celebrating the 60th anniversary of our foundation.”