Our Annual General Meeting should have taken place today, 8th April, but due to the circumstances we have had to postpone it until some uncertain date in the future. Instead I have decided to hold a virtual AGM and I hope you will all feel inclined to join me. Obviously, I am not able to discuss all aspects of the Meeting on this site but I hope the following will keep you in the picture.
Present: All attendees in spirit.
Apologies: None accepted!
Committee: Please note that your Committee remains as elected in 2019 until such time as we are able to hold our AGM proper. We are continuing to work on your behalf in the best way that we can.
I think we can all agree that 2019 was an exceptional year for Cherry Park. We thought it couldn’t get any better than one of our drivers, Sandra, qualifying and coming a very close runner up in the Novice Whip at the RDA National Championships in 2018. But she qualified again and was upgraded to Intermediate Class at the Championships in 2019. With a scratch team of four volunteers accompanying her, Sandra excelled herself, won the Class and to our great delight took the Championship as well. Honours go not only to Sandra but to Gemma our RDA Coach and most especially our VIP (very important pony) Jim. The occasion was all the more special for being the 50th Anniversary of RDA and the event was attended not only by HRH the Princess Royal as President of RDA but also the BBC’s Countryfile with Anita Rani presenting the rosettes and trophy.
In September, Cherry Park returned to Sands Farm Indoor Championship Qualifiers where Sandra, this time driving single reins with Gemma backstepping, qualified for the Championship in the Open Class.
The RDA South East Region Conference held in October proved another red letter day for Cherry Park. Sandra was invited to give a short talk on her achievements which was well-received, Jim (VIP) was presented with a special rosette in acknowledgement of his role, and your Chairman, to her great surprise, was awarded the Tora Bray Trophy for her efforts in keeping the Group going through difficult times. Honoured and thrilled as I was to receive this accolade, I would like to say that it would not be possible without the efforts of all our committee and volunteers so a big thank you to you all.
However, we weren’t finished yet. Our short-list nomination for the Carriage Driving Awards in the category Driving for the Disabled Group of the Year 2019 saw us invited to an Awards Ceremony hosted by Carriage Driving Magazine at the Botanical Gardens in Birmingham on 1st November. Dressed up to the nines and having partaken of a splendid meal, we waited with bated breath for the results. To our great delight and with some disbelief, we were pronounced the winner! In my acceptance speech (not quite the Oscars but it felt like it!) I stressed the importance of our volunteers without whom we would not be able to function.
Our year was rounded off by our Christmas Lunch which was well attended and enjoyed by everyone.
The rest of the Agenda will have to wait until we are able to have our actual AGM but I hope that the above will remind you of our wonderful year. It goes without saying that we value all our drivers and hope to be able to give them good experiences of driving again when this dreadful episode is over.
Who knew, when we were celebrating successes and looking forward to further achievements, that it would all be put on hold and 2020 would be wiped from the map? If nothing else, it gives us pause for thought to ponder how we might expand our activities in the future. All things are possible given the will!