Following the May 2021 Grant Making Committee, a grant of £2,000 was made towards the Stella Hancock Driving Group and I had the great pleasure of presenting the cheque to Fiona Stuart, Trustee and Committee Member, at their Merrist Wood Campus in Surrey on 30th June. It was wonderful to see the enjoyment people with disabilities were gaining from driving and being around the charity’s horses.
About The Stella Hancock Driving Group
The Stella Hancock Driving Group is a Riding for the Disabled Association affiliated charity which provides horse and carriage driving for ambulant and non-ambulant wheelchair and non-wheelchair users. Weekly sessions are held on a Wednesday between March and November and are provided for drivers who can take proficiency tests and compete in RDA and British Driving Society shows and competitions.
The Stella Hancock Driving Group was the first RDA carriage driving group with ponies, started in 1976 and operating at first from Stella’s own farm at West Horsley. It continued there for several years after her untimely death in 1988 and they now operate from Merrist Wood Campus. Prince Philip was a keen supporter of RDA carriage driving and had a role in the setting up and inauguration of the group as a friend of the group’s founder, the late Ron Hancock.
The benefits to drivers
The benefits for the drivers include: improved co-ordination, improved muscle power, relaxation through rhythmic movement, being out in the open air, achievement, self-confidence and very importantly, having some fun!
The effects of the Covid 19 pandemic
The group is small with approximately 40 members and 10-15 regular volunteers. No trustees, committee members or volunteers are paid for their time. The group relies on income from membership fees, driver fees, donations and fundraising to cover its costs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group has been unable to offer carriage driving in 2020 and has only recently began driving again in 2021, starting in early May. This has meant that income from driver fees has been lost and therefore the HSF grant will be of huge assistance in keeping the group active and help the drivers to continue improving both their physical and mental health.
For more details on The Stella Hancock Driving Group, please visit their Facebook page on https://www.facebook.com/Stella-Hancock-Driving-Group-RDA