By Andrew Ward

A HELENSBURGH volunteer has been recognised for her efforts by the West and Central Scotland branch of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA).

Trish Clarke, who is the Gareloch RDA group’s participant representative, received the ‘most brilliant person’ award at this year’s annual general meeting of the national RDA.

During a somewhat turbulent year, Trish has taken on the additional responsibilities of being the association's coronavirus officer, trainee driving coach, first aider and long-rein coach.

The award has come as no surprise to those who nominated Trish, but certainly caught her off guard.

READ MORE: Disabled riding group seeking human helpers for 'special animals'

She said: “This award has come as a complete surprise, but I am honoured and delighted to receive it.

“The RDA is a great organisation and one which I am proud to be associated with.”

Founded in 1976, the Gareloch RDA group, which is based at the Colgrain Equestrian Centre to the east of Helensburgh, has catered for adults, children and young people of all disabilities, and currently has more than 50 riders.

Their catchment area includes Helensburgh, Lochside, Clydebank, Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven and further afield.

Trish takes great pride in the vast amount of work they do, but was quick to praise her team.

She continued: “I am lucky to work with a fantastic team at Gareloch. This award is a tribute to their hard work and support, as much as it is anything I may have done.”

READ MORE: Cash boost gives Gareloch RDA hope for the future

Kate Bennett, the RDA’s regional chairman in west and central Scotland, had nothing but praise for Trish and the efforts she has gone to.

She said: “Whenever anything is required Trish is right on it. Trish is indeed a most brilliant person, who cannot help but care for people and animals.

“This year she has taken on the added responsibility of looking after our driving ponies. I often ask myself: how would we manage without her?”

Penny Buchanan, who has been involved with the RDA for more than 40 years, received the most prestigious award of the evening – the President’s Award.

She was presented with the honour, virtually, by HRH the Princess Royal, the charity’s president.

The ‘Brilliant Group Award’ was presented to Stirling-based group, ‘Equi-Power Central Scotland Riding for the Disabled’. The group

raised an impressive £10,353 for the virtual Kilt Walk appeal this year.

Read all the latest local headlines here