Regional Officials

North Midlands Region is run by a enthusiatic and dedicated team of volunteers who meet on a regular basis to manage the day to day running of the region. 
Regional Chairmen
On the retirement of Sandi Betts in January 2009 Clarissa Howkins and Lesley Davies took over the role of North Midlands Regional Chairman on a role-share basis:

CLARISSA started with RDA in 1977 at the Royal Mews with St. James Park group. She moved to Northamptonshire in about 1993 and became involved with the Hillcrest RDA in Northants. She has been Group Instructor there for many years and is still Chairman of the Hillcrest charity.Clarissa became Northants County Chairman in 2003, a role which has now been taken over by Chris McGarity.

 Clarissa is married with 2 children, Lucy and James (now married to Annabelle). She is an R.G.N. Nurse and still works part-time for a Dermatologist at the Lister Hospital in London. Clarissa rode regularly as a child and enjoyed many happy days hunting with the Cambridgeshire Harriers.

Clarissa plans to focus her role as Regional Chairman to the South of the North Midlands Region. She can be contacted on: 0778 579 1100 or 01327 703600



  LesleyLesley joined RDA in 2005........ "Join Weight-Watchers" they said and "discover a new you". I did but it wasn’t a slimmer version of myself I uncovered but the amazing world of RDA ! A lucky encounter with a friend at a WW meeting lead me to an introduction to the Nottinghamshire Pony Riding Group and my life hasn’t been the same since! I joined as a regular volunteer in the February of 2005 and due to changes within the group by the September had decided to become a Log Book holder and start working towards by GI badge.

 In my previous life (i.e. before RDA) I was a ‘retired’ pharmacist, married with two teenage children enjoying long lunches with my girl friends followed by too numerous shopping trips to John Lewis and regular rides on my beloved hunter Molly. This all changed when I realised I needed to expand my RDA experience and find myself a mentor - a lot had changed since my teenager Pony Club and BHS eventing days! So I also started volunteering at Kesteven group just outside Grantham under the ever watchful (she-doesn’t-miss-a-thing) Karen Thompson, our Regional Instructor. Together with her amazing team, she helped me to gain in confidence and I attained my GI badges for both groups by June 2006.

Three years later and I find myself as Joint Regional Chairman with Clarissa and have recently embarked on the UK CC level 2 coaching course we have just started in the region and I hope to sit the RGAI exam later in the year. If there is one thing I can pass on to other ‘relatively’ new Instructors /Log Book holders or indeed anyone thinking about becoming an Instructor - go for it - we have an immense network of experienced and inspirational trainers who can help you every step of the way!

Over the last six months I have had the opportunity to visit a few of the groups in our region and have been very impressed with the level of commitment and expertise that our wonderful volunteers provide and I look forward to seeing more groups in action over the next twelve months.

The year ahead is very exciting being our 40th Anniversary- I am looking forward to teaching a few sessions on our Biggest Riding Lesson on September 30th- not least to a few of our more senior volunteers who have not sat on a horse since Rod Stewart topped the music charts with ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? !

 In September I am part of the Kesteven Team taking eight adults with learning difficulties on a riding holiday to the Clwyd Special Riding Centre. This promises to be a really lively experience. Holidays are a wonderful opportunity for our riders and are one of the most exciting activities that RDA offers.

Our region has achieved much over the last few years and we have a great tradition of competitive success. As I write this our riders who qualified at the regional Events will be preparing for the Championships next week and I wish them all well and I know they will do us proud!!

Having fun and taking part was the order of the day at Northamptonshire’s Fun day on June 24th 2009 and what fun we had. It was a marvellous occasion and the atmosphere was joyous – children, adults, ponies (even two fairy ponies) farmers and clowns all having a go at the Countryside Challenge, Dressage and Horse Care classes. All credit to Chris McGarity and her team for a wonderful day. Perhaps we could have similar Fun days in each county in the future so that more riders and groups’ have a go’ and realise that they are good enough to enter the Regional Qualifiers too!

 These are difficult times for raising money but we are probably better placed than other charities. We hope to run a training event later in the year based on ideas for fund raising and maximising bids for the grants of money that do exist. The region will be represented at the Belvoir game Fair running on 24th.25th and 26th July and from next year we will be running the stand at the Burghley Horse Trails so anyone out there with experience in buying and merchandising please step forward!

 Finally I would just like to thank all my friends, two and four legged, who have welcomed me into the wonderful family that is RDA !

Lesley will focus on the Northern part of the Region and can be contacted on 0115 9334944
Regional Instructor
Karen Thompson began working with Riding for the Disabled Association on a regular basis in 1988 and is celebrating her 21st (again!) this year.  Here are Karen's thoughts on being involved with RDA . ........
Having worked with horses all my life in many different guises - hunters, polo ponies, training centres, dealers yards and riding schools - I started my own business in 1988.  "Would you like to do some RDA work? " a local physiotherapist asked me, a small group of 4 riders started riding on a weekly basis for half an hour and Kesteven group was born.  Over the years the group expanded and there were many changes in the way the sessions were run.  Today the group has it's own charity status and much time is spent checking compliance with new legislation but the ethos of providing therapeutic and recreational riding still remains.
I was gradually pulled into helping with the region, firstly on a county level as County Instructor from Anne Day who was a wonderful mentor for me - always ready with a smile and good sound advice - and more recently as Regional Instructor. 
I love visiting the groups in the region and seeing the different methods and ideas used to help the riders, I always come away with a new tip to use in my own group.  Sadly, I am not able to do as much visiting groups as I would like to due to work committments but my motto of "have information .....can't travel"  has bought some instructors to my venue to work alongside me,  particularly with UKCC coaching. 
My recent involvement with the World Class Para Dressage Squad has added a new dimension to my coaching and I feel very privileged to work alongside riders at this level.




Regional Participant Representative 
North Midlands RDA
Matthew Dalley 

I started riding with Scropton RDA when I was six. I need a leader and two side walkers to help me, but I loved it right from the start. I was determined to improve and worked hard. I saw other riders doing different things - trotting, cantering, jumping - and I wanted to do all those things too. Over a few years I got better and riding became my favourite thing! 

I enjoyed taking part in competitions and went to my first regional countryside challenge when I was 9. I fell off when my pony jumped over the pole, but it didn’t put me off. I’ve taken part in regional competitions every year since, moving on to dressage where I am a grade III rider.

At Scropton when my riding improved I started competing against the able bodied riders, both at dressage and show jumping. I also got involved in Special Olympics as well as RDA competitions. Things really changed when I got my own horse. I was 15 and his name was Dougal. It meant I could go out and do more things, and start to get involved in Para Competitions.

I now have Smithy and we have a partnership for 3 years. We take part in some Para Dressage and Show Jumping, and also local AB dressage, show jumping and cross country competitions. I still love my involvement with RDA competitions too, and every year work hard to qualify to go to the National Championships at Hartpury - a fantastic event and I have been become a official speaker at RDA AGM in Aintree from November 2014.

I still ride with Scropton RDA and also help there as a volunteer. RDA has always been a big part of my life and I am delighted to be the rider representative for the North Midlands. I am also part of RDA National Committee for Participation alongisde with Emma Wells from our region. I have new horse called GarryKnock (Garry) which you can see the progress from my Facebook Page: Matthew Dalley - Para Dressage/Jumping Rider