Elinor Goodman, former Financial Times Parliamentary reporter and Political Editor of Channel 4 News, is launching a fund raising campaign for Marlborough Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA). She wants organisations and companies to hire her to give talks on her experiences – with fees great and small going to the charity.
Elinor who lives near Marlborough at Wilton, is Chair of the local RDA. She says that raising funds is getting harder and harder and that as expenses rise funds are needed more and more. The RDA relies on the generosity of local horse owners and of Ken and Jilly Carter of Manton.
The owners bring their horses by horsebox to the Carter’s excellent indoor riding school and children from local schools get to ride the horses both in the covered school and, when it’s not raining, outside. But local authorities and schools are feeling the pinch so much that some cannot afford the transport or afford to spare a teacher to oversee the special needs children.
Sometimes children need three helpers – one each side of the horse and one leading it. Riding offers a unique form of therapy for the young with many levels of special needs.
During a day they will give one hour sessions to thirty-two riders – each of the eight horses and ponies doing two rides. The day Marlborough News Online was there Matt from Pewsey was riding Elinor’s own horse, Badger.
Matt was simply bursting with enthusiasm at the opportunities RDA gives him: “This opens up a whole world you didn’t know existed. There’s nothing bad I can say about riding.” There were lots of helpers there that day including four girls, all students from Marlborough College.
Elinor hopes voluntary groups will collect £200 from their members to hear her talk on her years reporting Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – complete with behind the scenes disasters and triumphs. Or talk about Prime Minister John Major’s reaction to a pretty fierce press – and some scurrilous cartoons.
Elinor has a great deal of experience in the problems and politics (with both a small and large ‘p’) of rural life – she chaired the last government’s Rural Housing Commission, and later served six years as a Commissioner on the Commission for Rural Communities (which this government abolished and which closes on March 31.)
More recently Elinor has been one of the panel of six Assessors assisting Lord Justice Leveson during the inquiry into the ‘Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press’.
Higher up the pay scale from voluntary groups, companies needing a speaker for their annual staff dinner might pay as much as £500 – all going to a charity that really does make a difference.
Help to make that difference has just come from Bedwyn’s pantomime team who have given the Marlborough RDA £1,000 from the proceeds of their recent show. “It was”, says Elinor, “a wonderful surprise and extremely generous.”
There’s more information on Marlborough RDA’s Facebook page.