In 2004, Alan Oddie, a former actuary and MD of life assurance companies, could have been expected to spend his hard-earned retirement tending his garden and playing bridge. Instead, he has devoted the last 16 years to charitable work. First as a magistrate on the Aylesbury and MK benches and then as a founder of one of MK’s most well-known charities.
In 2008, along with his wife, Rachel Medill MBE, he has spent the last 12 years founding and running Ride High, the MK charity which uses horses to transform the lives of severely disadvantaged and troubled children.
Alan has worked between 3 and 5 days a week for the charity for the whole of this period on a completely pro bono basis.
From a small beginning when the charity worked with just 6 children a week, Ride High has grown every year.
The children who come to Ride High may be living in foster care and struggling to cope, caring for a parent or siblings, living in poverty, at risk of committing suicide and/or are living in environments dominated by family breakdown. Many are not attending school and all have very poor prospects for the future.
Over the last 12 years the charity has raised over £16m in order to transform the lives of 1000s of local children. 90% of children leaving Ride High are in full time education, college or in some work experience.
In 2016 it took over the equestrian centre in Loughton – The 37 acre city centre site, now called The Ride High Equestrian centre is the permanent home of the charity which works with 90 children a week. It provides riding and equestrian services to a wide range of vulnerable adults and children as well as offering riding lessons to the general public.
This honour recognises the crucial part that Alan has played in the founding and growth of the charity.
Olivia Sugdon, CEO of Ride High said “Alan is a true professional and gentleman. He has generously and graciously given his time and overwhelming expertise to Ride High for 12 years. Together with his wife Rachel Medill MBE, he founded Ride High and has tirelessly, but modestly committed his days (and nights) behind the scenes to help the charity change the lives of thousands of children. Ride High simply would not be what it is today without him, and I cannot think of a more worthy recipient of such an honour. We are so very fortunate to have Alan’s continued support – and we’re exceptionally proud of him.”