Sadness and gratitude as Riding for the Disabled boss moves on after 17 ‘unforgettable’ years

  • The chief executive of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) is moving on after 17 “unforgettable” years at the helm.

    The charity’s trustees announced today (9 December) that Ed Bracher is to leave in April.

    Mr Bracher told H&H he feels sadness at leaving the “amazing” organisation but that the time was right for a new challenge.

    “The last 17 years has brought me into contact with really brilliant, incredibly committed people who have been my inspiration; that’s our participants, staff and volunteers,” he said. “When I look at what people are willing to give this organisation – I’m at the stage where I’m getting lots of love from people, they’re all saying nice things, but they’re the ones out there day in, day out, doing amazing things. I’ve had an opportunity to be involved with an amazing organisation, and I hope I’ve taken things forward.”

    Mr Bracher said the organisation is left in excellent hands, with a “really gung-ho” new chairman, and a very positive board.

    “And we’ve put together a very exciting and ambitious strategy,” he said. “Tempting though it is to stay and deliver it, having seen the organisation through the last two years, which of course have been a challenge, it’s the right moment to move on.”

    Mr Bracher said there has been much change in the last 17 years, but that: “I’m conscious the RDA belongs to our 25,000 participants and 18,000 volunteers; I just try to steer the ship”.

    He added: “The changes have been more evolution than revolution; increasing numbers and income, and from my point of view, creating something really special and permanent in our national training centre.

    “I like to think we’ve become a bit more professional in some areas, and got out and about more, and raised the profile of what we do.”

    Mr Bracher believes awareness of the benefits of involving horses in therapy, physical and mental, has grown, as has understanding of exactly what the RDA does, and that the charity is now far more involved in the wider equestrian industry, with close relationships with other governing bodies.

    He said he would like to see RDA grow much more in future, adding: “More people understand the benefits of bringing horses and people together, and we still can’t begin to meet the demand for our services, so I’d like to see us able to address that and meet the need for more people.

    “One thing we’ve really tried to move away from is some people’s view of us as an organisation that gives pony rides, which I find quite patronising. I’d like people really to understand the value of what we do, and promote and support it so we can get more people involved.”

    In a statement, the RDA board announced Mr Bracher’s resignation with “both sadness and gratitude”.

    “Ed joined RDA UK in 2004 and during his 17-year tenure has provided the organisation with strong leadership that has ensured that the organisation is widely respected as one of the UK’s most important and well known charities,” the statement said.

    “The board is hugely grateful for Ed’s commitment to the RDA and will be very sorry to lose him as he is universally respected throughout the RDA community and beyond. His optimistic, inclusive and pragmatic approach will be sorely missed as he embodies the spirit of RDA – committed to making lives better and believing above all that ‘It’s what you can do that counts’.”

    Mr Bracher will stay until April, during which time the board will undertake the process of appointing a new chief executive.

    He added: “I’m excited to begin this new stage of my career, and have several new opportunities to explore. That said, I will be sad to leave an organisation that has given me so much over so many years, and from which I will take away many unforgettable moments. I look forward to keeping up with all of RDA’s future successes, of which I feel sure there will be many.”

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