Community News From Around Our Area

Local Disabled Woman ‘Steps Up’ to Help Raise Vital Funds for Charity that has Supported her for the Last Decade

Zia Clayton, who has Cerebral Palsy and Lupus, has been riding with Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) for ten years as a form of therapy to ensure she stays mobile and supple. Riding allows her to take part in a sport where she feels equal and can achieve and compete against others across the UK, having previously competed at the RDA National Championships based at Hartpury College.

Zia rides at the RDA National Training Centre, near Warwick, which is currently closed due to COVID-19. Although the lessons have ceased, there are still mounting costs for caring for the horses. Said Zia, “As a rider at the Centre I really wanted to give something back and help support the horses in these uncertain times, as RDA is very close to my heart.”

In a bid to raise these funds, Zia took part in a 2.6 Challenge, starting on Sunday 26th April, the day that the London Marathon should have took place. The challenge continued for four days with Zia walking a total of 2.6 miles across uneven ground. A challenge she found extremely difficult due to her disabilities which can make Zia very unbalanced and unsteady on her feet, as well as causing extreme fatigue.

“I had seen people were taking up challenges in support of charities across the UK. I thought this would be a great opportunity to do something for the Centre that has helped me for so many years.”

“I knew it was going to be difficult, but the rain really added to this. I even had a little hiccup on my last lap of the field on day four and lost my footing – but it was OK, I got straight back ‘on the horse’ again as such and carried on to the finish. I did 8,020 steps across the four days which is huge for me.

“I really miss Benjie; the horse I ride. We have an amazing partnership and he makes me feel free. The horse’s legs are my legs when I ride. They really are great therapy for your mind as well as body and it is difficult not being able to go for my weekly riding lesson. After weeks of being at home and unable to ride I can really see how much it improves my strength and balance. I wanted to do something to help the Centre – to ensure the horses are well cared for in these uncertain times so that they can carry on with the amazing work that they do that helps so many people.”

As well as providing life changing activities for local disabled riders, the RDA National Training Centre is also the central hub of the national charity RDA. They help support the training of the 18,000 strong volunteer workforce and provide a space for the local community to hire for functions and events as well as riding. Having recently offered their venue for the Australia Day fundraiser, organised by the Eventing Riders Association of Great Britain, to support the equestrian community affected by fire in Australia back in January.

Zia’s challenge helped to raise hundreds of pounds to support the twelve horses at the Centre with donations continuing to come in. There are still a number of 2.6 challenges taking place, with the team who care for the horses and some close friends also jumping at the opportunity to raise vital funds to support the horses. These include a skipping challenge for 26 days and running 2.6 miles in fancy dress.

If you would like to help support the team, please visit their Just Giving page and make a donation at www.justgiving.com/campaign/rda-nationaltrainingcentre-crisisfund.