Launch of Princess Royal Coaching Academy

On Friday 5 November The Princess Royal launched a new national Coaching Academy for RDA and announced the first Coach Mentors who are integral to the programme’s success.  The Academy, which will include training for newly appointed ‘Coach Mentors’, who have been selected from RDA’s existing Advanced Coach workforce, was officially launched by Her Royal Highness on a visit to RDA’s National Training Centre in Warwickshire.

The Princess Royal Coaching Academy recognises the importance of high performing coaches working with disabled riders. The initiative will increase the number of coaches moving to advanced training, which in turn will increase the number of disabled people RDA can support, helping to tackle waiting lists and unmet demand for its services at groups all over the UK.

Speaking to RDA UK volunteers, Coaches and staff, The Princess Royal referenced the early pioneers of RDA Coaching:

“It was that early understanding and example of standards that has made the organisation what it is. And for those of you who have followed in those footsteps and developed in your own ways in your own groups and in your own areas, there is a huge amount we have learned. I hope you will agree that the Coaching Academy is an appropriate use of that experience – and will make all of that experience go a little bit further, to encourage more people to take their places in the RDA, and to make that change for each of those individuals that they come across.”

The Academy is named after The Princess Royal, on the 50th anniversary of her becoming the RDA’s Patron in 1971 (she became President in 1985).

Ed Bracher, CEO of Riding for the Disabled Association, said:

“We are enormously excited to launch our new Coaching Academy. Our coaches lie at the heart of the RDA’s work and through the Academy, we aim to nurture talent, innovation and excellence. This is a core part of our plan to dramatically increase the number of disabled people we can support by our 60th anniversary in 2029. We are delighted that The Princess Royal has agreed to lend her name to the Academy, fifty years after she first became involved with RDA.”


John Studzinski CBE, the philanthropist who is supporting the first two years of the Academy, said:

“I am delighted to support this excellent new initiative from the RDA. The Coaching Academy will strengthen the RDA’s provision of training and support for its volunteers, coaches and mentors. Ultimately this will provide an even better experience for all the disabled children and adults the charity helps. I first got to know about the RDA over 10 years ago and was immediately struck by the value of its work. For me, above all else, RDA brings human dignity to people, which is a recurring theme across my philanthropic interests.”


Karen Thompson, RDA UK National Coaching Lead and newly appointed Mentor for The Princess Royal Coaching Academy says:

“I am honoured and privileged to be in the first cohort of Mentors for The Princess Royal Coaching Academy, and look forward to supporting RDA coaches through their Advanced training. I hope they will find it useful to have a sounding board – someone they can discuss ideas and concerns with – and who they can learn from. It’s great that RDA is recognising the experience and value of its senior Coaches, who have learned so much over many years, and providing a way for that expertise to be shared and passed on – not just for the benefit of other coaches, but ultimately so that more disabled people can take part.”

The first Mentors are:

  • Karen Thompson, RDA UK National Coaching Lead and Kesteven Rideability
  • Sarah Healing, Greater London Regional Coach and Penniwells RDA
  • Mark Cunliffe, National Coach Developer and North Cornwall RDA
  • Sister Mary Joy Langdon, Coach Developer and Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre
  • Sue Adams-Wheeler, Honorary Life Vice President, former National Coaching Lead
  • Bridget Mackwood, Mid West Regional Coach and Lyncombe Lodge RDA
  • Karen Glasgow, Edinburgh & Borders Regional Coach and Drum RDA
Page Last Updated: November 12, 2021