Charity’s ship comes in with crew’s visit

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The Angus branch of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) had a visit from some old friends recently, who made a £1,000 donation to the charity’s funds.

Some of the crew of HMS Montrose visited the South Bottymyre centre, at Inverarity, during their visit to their affiliated town of Montrose.

HMS Montrose was returning after a seven-month deployment to the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean where, amongst other operational tasks, she assisted with the removal of chemical weapons from Syria.

During her time away the frigate’s crew raised over £15,000 for charities - one of the highest amounts ever raised by one warship.

The ship has a 20-year association with the RDA and during their visit the sailors met the riders and horses with even commanding officer Commander James Parkin taking to the saddle before handing over their cheque.

The money will help the team and the volunteers to continue their work allowing disabled youngsters to ride one of the eight ponies at the centre.

About 40 adults and children with a variety of disabilities ride each week in the purpose-built facilities just outside Forfar.

Lieutenant George Lewis, one of the officers under training on the ship, said: “I never imagined when I joined the Royal Navy I would get involved in a good cause like this.

“It was really rewarding to see the riders get so much out of the experience and, although I’m a little too tall to ride the ponies, it looked brilliant fun.”

On the same day, another team from HMS Montrose visited Dorward House, a care home in Montrose which is the ship’s longest-standing affiliation, and which this year is celebrating its 175th anniversary, to present another £1,000 cheque.

Commander Parkin said: “As well as the considerable pride of taking my ship into the town of Montrose, the opportunity to visit Angus RDA and Dorward House while we were here was as rewarding as it was humbling.

“We have supported both institutions for over 20 years now, and all of my team relished the chance to meet some of the beneficiaries of these amazing charities, as well as make our own contribution to their funds.”