Jane Payne - Dovecote Group(January 25, 2020)
It is with immense sadness that we announce the sudden passing of our dedicated friend and colleague Jane Payne on Monday 6th January 2020 after a sudden short illness.
As group coach and secretary, Jane was co founder of the Dovecote Farm RDA group along with Heather Gunn back in 1998, set up to provide weekly riding lessons for children with special needs. Despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis shortly before, Jane lived life to the full. Never one to admit defeat she faced any challenges head on; her sheer determination and enthusiasm meant that nothing ever stood in the way of running RDA or promoting the cause. In the early days when walking around the arena became difficult she simply mounted her trusty stead of 14 years, Gate Crasher, also affectionately known as Tubby and ran the lessons on horseback with just a little help getting in and out of the saddle.
Despite the logistical difficulties, Jane loved to take the children to RDA’s Countryside Challenge and Flintham Ploughing Matches...curiously held everywhere but Flintham! Jane had a particular fondness for fudge and if she ever went missing at such events, she could usually be found checking out the nearby confectionary stalls; the homemade cakes at RDA training sessions were always a hot favourite too. Getting to such events was somewhat of an experience in itself, Jane didn’t particularly like driving long distances, so one of us volunteers would be nominated as chauffer and it soon became apparent why. For those of us used to driving a sporty car with a bit of muscle under the bonnet, getting behind the wheel of Jane’s WAV (wheelchair accessible vehicle) was not for the faint hearted, once you resigned yourself to sticking in the slow lane and avoiding busy junctions it was a bit easier on the nerves, but with less than smooth gears and brakes designed to propel you through the windscreen at the lightest touch, not everyone was up for the challenge! Shredded nerves aside, the journeys were always made interesting with Jane’s fascinating and funny stories of her life around horses and the people she met; she never failed to lift the spirits and put a smile on your face.
Over the years Jane’s heroic efforts passed largely unnoticed, mainly due to the fact that she always insisted that there were others more worthy of accolades than herself and didn’t want any fuss. After her superhuman efforts arranging lessons and awards for the children from a hospital bed following a severe infection, we finally decided that her dedication to the cause could no longer be ignored and entered her into the RDA Volunteer of the Year Awards in 2015. She deservedly won the regional title and was presented with the award at the Flintham Ploughing match by regional chair Clarissa Hawkins...I think she was secretly rather pleased!
Jane was a true inspiration to us all and will be sadly missed. In spite of her disability, she never complained, even as her health deteriorated she always remained positive and upbeat. It is testament to Janes’s values that on the day after the shock announcement of her passing, despite overwhelming sadness, all our regular volunteers turned up for that Wednesday’s lessons, the last thing Jane would have wanted would have been for us to cancel. Mercifully, our grief was eased somewhat by the unexpected appearance of a new pony called Elf. If ever there was a real life incarnation of a Thelwell pony then this pony is it. He has to be the cutest, smallest, stockiest and fluffiest pony we have ever set eyes upon; it was love at first sight. Indeed, several volunteers had to be restrained from loading him into the boot of their cars!
In 2018 Dovecote Farm RDA celebrated its twentieth anniversary. Thanks to Jane, Dovecote Farm RDA Group has continued to thrive and put smiles on the faces of hundreds of children. Jane has left a lasting legacy of which her family should be immensely proud. Left in the safe hands of fellow devotees, hopefully it will continue to enhance the lives of special needs children for many more years to come...