Winning the award of Carriage Driving for the Disabled Group of the Year was an overwhelming and thrilling experience for Cherry Park Driving Group. As a small group we have faced many challenges over the past five years, being reduced to one pony and a handful of dedicated volunteers, and having to move our venue on two occasions. Despite that, 2019 proved to be very successful both in terms of “keeping our show on the road” and winning the Championship at the RDA National Championships in July with our star disabled driver. To have our efforts acknowledged by those responsible for the Carriage Driving Awards was satisfying, morale-boosting and motivating, not to mention humbling in the face of our equally deserving peers. All those connected to Cherry Park have been proud and delighted for us and we hope that the profile raised will be beneficial for the future of the Group. The ceremony at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens gave us the chance to mingle with the best in the carriage driving world. Apart from the award giving, my favourite part of the evening was watching the rolling slide show of the many and varied aspects of carriage driving. At present, our award and certificate are under the care of me as Chairman of the Group but will be displayed at our Annual General Meeting and thereafter in a prominent place every week at our venue. For me they are a reminder of a splendid evening and the culmination of an amazing year.
Hilary Gilson - Chairman, Cherry Park Driving Group, Driving for the Disabled Group of the Year 2019
We’re delighted that Rupert has won this award and for the opportunity to shine a light on the positive connection that horses, ponies and people can have. This beautiful pony who was found at such a young age, traumatised and deemed worthless, has transformed the life of a boy with special needs. Ben has been able to regularly get outside and enjoy some fresh air, something that many children in his position are unable to do. Rupert was able to change Ben’s life for the better and in return Ben offered Rupert the unconditional love that he deserved. The love they share for each other is clear to see, it is a true tale of friendship and it deserved to be celebrated. The whole journey from the nomination process to the ceremony was such an enlightening experience. Words can not describe the feeling of having your pony acknowledged as the hero you always knew he was and I know that Rupert’s family and everyone at The Mare and Foal Sanctuary are incredibly grateful for this opportunity – a very special thank you to the Carriage Driving Awards team.
The Mare and Foal Sanctuary - Rupert, Rescue Horse of the Year 2019
I submitted Leah’s nomination because she is one of the most dedicated teenagers that I know. Not being a professional carriage driver, she has to time manage her degree study, part time job and home producing her ponies herself. To achieve what she does, in the time that she has available is a demonstration of the effort she puts in to carriage driving. Being shortlisted reflects the recognition of what is a 52 weeks per year commitment to trying to get our competing as good as it can be.
Nominator of Leah Marshall and Noddy Vyse Show Girl - Best Non-Traditional Turnout of the Year 2019