History of the Group
The Group was founded in 1974 by Nancy Pethick and based at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. We were the first group to cater for disabled drivers using wheelchairs and specially adapted carriages. Nancy developed this idea using donkeys to pull the carriages.
The first instructor was Major 'Tommy' Thompson, who was based at Sandhurst, and taught the group many valuable lessons. We then moved our headquarters to Ascot Racecourse in 1975. Subsequently other groups were set up across the UK based on Nancy’s model.
When the RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association), which was initially set up for disabled riding, added carriage driving to their constitution in 1975, our Group was one of the first RDA driving groups. Over the years, the idea has been further developed using ponies, horses and specially designed and adapted carriages to cater for the needs of disabled individuals, whether they are wheelchair users or more mobile.
We have two lovely ponies and all our drivers receive instruction and are accompanied by an RDA coach in the carriage at all times. Why not come along and meet us?
Just contact us.
What do we do?
Driving for the disabled offers disabled individuals the opportunity to learn how to drive ponies whilst at the same time they can enjoy an outdoor activity with animals and other people. Many disabled people who would otherwise find it difficult to pursue an outdoor activity can benefit from the recreational and social therapy that driving provides.
Windsor and Ascot Driving Group offers membership to disabled people from the local area, subject to the completion of the relevant RDA consent form.
What ponies are suitable?
Ponies must be experienced, quiet and totally reliable and will have been assessed by the RDA prior to being used in the group.
What sort of vehicle is suitable?
To allow for easy access, low, purpose built carriages have been developed with a rear folding ramp for those in wheelchairs. The design allows for an experienced RDA coach to sit alongside the disabled person, which provides the essential safety and security.
How can you help our group?
By helping at our weekly drives, which currently take place on Monday afternoons and Thursday mornings, from March to November. Also we have individuals who volunteer to help with the caring of the ponies on a daily basis. You may wish to cycle alongside the turnouts. There are a variety of roles that you might be interested in.
For more details see our How to help page.
As our Group has two ponies, funds need to be raised constantly to meet our running expenses. Major expenses include purchases of ponies, carriages and equipment, the services of the farrier and vet, and the upkeep of the ponies.
We are particularly grateful for the support given, amongst others, by Fullers Logistics, Royal Ascot Golf Club, the Spotlights Musical Theatre Group, All Saints' Church in Ascot Heath, the Sunninghill Victorian Street Fayre Committee, the Roland Grange Trust, the War Horse Memorial, Travis Perkins in Crowthorne and local Rotary, Round Table and Lions clubs. Many thanks also to Ascot Authority for its years of continuous support and help in many ways. Thanks also to the individuals who generously support us. Funds are also raised from the green disc Waitrose Community Project, collection boxes in the Post Office and General Store in Windsor Great Park, Brewers Decorators Centre in Windsor and Tally Ho Farm and shopping through Give As You Live and Amazon Smile.
See our Fundraising page for more details.
Donations, large or small, are always most welcome.