23 June 1995

BENEFITS

PLANT SCULPTURE TO PUBLICISE

TORBAY Council paid tribute to Riding for the Disabled incorporating Driving at the Royal Horticultural Societys Chelsea Flower Show with a large plant sculpture.

This showed a disabled driver being helped into a carriage where her companion is already seated, while a helper stands at the horses head.

After attracting much attention in the Great Marquee at Chelsea the life-size scene was reassembled in Torre Abbey Gardens where it will draw the charitys work to the attention of thousands of Torbay holidaymakers, as well as local residents, throughout the summer.

The iron frame and mesh outline of the horse and vehicle was created by Torquay blacksmith Ian Davies.

The scene is coloured with alternanthera plants but feverfew provides the bright green, as in the disabled drivers jumper, and sedum the softer green as in the companions shirt. "All are trimmable," explains Robert Sweet, head of Torbay parks and gardens department, who expects the work to last until October.

Driving was introduced to the RDA in 1974 to give physically disabled adults who were unable to ride the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a sport and animal related activity. These drivers, many of whom are in wheelchairs, can enjoy the countryside and the company of a horse in open vehicles which have been designed to meet their special needs.

More than 100 of the 700 RDA groups in the UK are driving groups or include driving in their activities.

With judicious trimming the planted-up sculpture will keep its shape and should grace Torre Abbey Gardens until October and help publicise Ridng for the Disabled incorporating driving.

The carriage is a copy of one used by a RDA driving group in Somerset.