Instructors and volunteers

Hi, I’m Claire Pope.

I started volunteering and riding at RDA in 2007 after recovering from a major motorbike accident which meant I lost use of my right arm. I had previously worked at a riding school which hosted RDA riders, so I got in touch with the Bedale group as soon as I was fit enough. After about a year, I trained to become a group coach, and in 2012 I passed the RDA coaching exam. I then became county coach for several years, which involved assessing and training coaches from other groups. I stood down from the role in 2023 to give me more time with my own horse, Lucinda. We compete in para show jumping.

Hello, I’m Diane Radford.

I started volunteering with RDA in 2012 and qualified as a coach in 2014. I work with riders in the UK and overseas, and coach at Bedale RDA with a great team of volunteers. I enjoyed owning, training and competing horses for BHS Eventing / BE for many years. Having extensive experience in teaching and education management, and being passionate about horses and making a difference to others’ lives, I took on the role of Regional Coach in 2020. This has been challenging and rewarding and I look forward to continuing to develop volunteers, coaches and participants in the future.

Hello there, I’m Esther Spencer.

I joined RDA after a life-changing injury in 2015, which resulted in me leaving my role in horse racing. I have 20+ years experience within the equestrian sector. I competed Affiliated and Pony
Club; latterly competing in RDA dressage with Claire’s pony, Grace. After resuming riding, coaching seemed a natural progression. I also train our volunteers to ensure everyone is as safe as possible when working with horses, which has always been important to me. I love watching partnerships in the arena grow as the participants interact with volunteers and ponies.

Hi there, I am Sarah Simons.

I am a coach in training. I joined Bedale RDA in January 2023 after my retirement. I worked as an advanced teaching assistant in a primary school for 25 years, supporting children throughout the school, including those with SEND. Although I no longer ride, my daughter and I have owned horses and ponies. As a Pony Club mum, I was an active member of Northallerton Riding Club for several years. I decided to volunteer for RDA because I missed working with young people and ponies. I love seeing the enjoyment our riders get from riding, and witnessing their progression, which is why I decided to train to be a coach for our lovely group.

Hello, I’m Sarah McDonald.

I’ve been volunteering with RDA wherever I have lived for many years, joining the Bedale group in 2021. I have always kept ponies and enjoyed being part of the Pony Club as a youngster. In my working life, I supported children and adults with learning difficulties, complex needs, challenging behaviour and mental health problems. Now that I’ve retired, it’s great to combine those skills with my experience with horses to support our riders at RDA. I am training to be a coach to further develop my skills, and feel very lucky to be have the backing of a knowledgeable, enthusiastic and friendly team of coaches and volunteers. It’s great to be part of such a well-run group.

Hi, we’re the volunteers!

We come from lots of different backgrounds and have a variety of reasons for joining the volunteer team, but one thing we have in common is that we all love to help at Bedale RDA. Some of us have lots of experience working with horses and/or disabled people, others had no experience before receiving their RDA training. We support the riders, the coaches and each other, as there’s always something new to learn.