HAVING taken in the Olympic medal winning efforts of Team GB’s three day eventing team, a coach with Berwickshire RDA is now ready to step out on a challenge of her own, trekking the Rift Valley in Kenya to raise money for the organisation she holds close to her heart.
Anthea Drysdale has been with the local branch of the Riding for the Disabled Association for 12 years now and gone through the ranks from a volunteer to a vaulter to now coaching others to vault and she is confident the training she does both on and off the horses at the RDA’s home at Sunnyside, Auchencrow will stand her in good stead for her nine day African mission.
She will join up with a group of fellow RDA volunteers from right across the UK for the trek, which will begin on September 11 and speaking to ‘The Berwickshire’ this week Anthea seemed eager to get cracking.
“It was at an RDA conference last year where the idea of doing the trek was first put to me and I thought why not?” she explained.
“I’d consider to myself to be quite fit anyway.
“I’m pretty supple from all the vaulting I do and our training also involves a lot of running and stretching.
“I really want to give something back to the RDA as it has given me so much pleasure over the years.”
Like other Berwickshire fundraisers who’ve journeyed to lands afar to complete ambitious challenges, Anthea said her training has been helped no end by the fantastic walking routes the area boasts.
“The place is an absolute dream for walkers,” she continued.
“There’s the hills of course but I love the coast particularly so I’ve been doing a lot of coastal hiking.
“I’ve been trying to do about 16 miles a couple of times a week and I can’t say I’ve felt too tired after any of them.”
The one thing Anthea, who designs scarves when she’s not coaching with the RDA, said she was slightly concerned about before jetting off to do the trek next month, was the difference in altitude, although as a keen skiier she’s coped with it before.
“I don’t think the tempertaure will be too much of an issue for me; I spent May/June over in Italy teaching English as a foreign language and it regularly got up to around 40 degrees there.
“The temperature in Kenya is set to be around 24 degrees when we come to do the trek and I hope the altitude isn’t too bad. There’s little you can do to asjust to that and it’s the one thing that slightly worries me.
“But whatever happens there’s 20 of us in the RDA group and I’m looking forward to the company. I haven’t met any of my fellow trekkers yet but I’m sure I’ll return home with lots of new friends.”
There are currently 40 riders enrolled with Berwickshire RDA and 50 volunteers and Anthea said she couldn’t emphasise enough just how big a difference attending sessions made to people’s lives.
“We all get so much out of it. Some of the youngsters in the classes come from difficult backgrounds and vaulting not only builds up their muscle tone and improves their co-ordination; it also boosts their confidence and self esteem.
“One of our greatest success stories is Charlie Lochhead who came to RDA for two years and was recently in the South of Scotland select team for vaulting.
“We need around £25,000 a year to keep the group going and rely on fundraising and donations to do this.
“I needed to raise £500 to go to Kenya, which I’ve done but I’d love to raise somewhere in the region of £1500 and give it all back to the RDA.”
Like the rest of Great Britain, Anthea has been gripped by Olympic fever and she was lucky enough to take in some of the three day eventing action, which she said was an experience she’d never forget.
“I got to see the cross country and the first day of the showjumping. We hadn’t won the medal by that point but we were looking good. Getting to actually be there and take in the Olympics was just amazing. Everyone was so friendly and it was so organised, it was just fantastic.”
Now the dust has settled on London 2012, Anthea’s thoughts will switch to her own challenge and if you’d like to help her reach her fundraising goal you can send a cheque payable to ‘Berwickshire Riding for the Disabled Association’ to her at The Old School, Ayton, Eyemouth, Berwickshire, TD14 5QN.