Civil servants generally don’t get parades thrown for them. They are more likely to be greeted with sideways glances and Sir Humphrey jokes. However, we’ve seen quite a few civil servants over the years at HorseBack and what is most striking about them all is the laser-sharp intelligence. They absorb information with amazing rapidity and ask piercing questions. They also, contrary to popular belief, make jokes.
This morning, we had a visit from Alex Aiken, the Executive Director of Government Communications. There were presentations from HorseBack co-founder Jock Hutchison, our operations manager Jay Hare, and Colin Nicoll of Banchory Academy, who was the imaginative force behind our Youth Initiative, now in its third year. By good luck, we happened to have a student group from Torry Academy on the premises, so our visitor could see the young people in action. Brook, our ex-racehorse, went through his paces with one of our veteran volunteers and with our newest recruit, Becky. HorseBack co-founder Emma Hutchison explained all the facilities and how the courses work, and our welfare liaison, Lynn Dukes, talked about the ramifications of combat stress-related injury. Margaret Birnie, who keeps the HorseBack ship serenely sailing on, was on hand. All this, in one hour flat.
It is a great thing for a small charity like HorseBack to be on the government radar, for many different reasons. One of those reasons is that it acts as a huge fillip for the whole team that someone should take the time to come all the way from London to see exactly what it is we do. The visit was intensely rewarding. Mr Aiken got the point in a flash, asked incisive questions, understood at once both the goal and the need, and seemed impressed with what he saw. All horses and humans put best hooves and feet forward, and even the Scottish weather was kind, freezing cold but bright and welcoming. It was a tremendous start to the day.