About The Team
One Equine Trust Directors
Richard retired from a career in the meat industry in 2016 having been managing director of two major NI companies. He also chaired two trade bodies, the NI Meat Exporters Association and the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association. From an amateur interest in horses and a meeting with Temple Grandin, the prominent autism spokesperson, Richard developed a curiosity about equine assisted activities (EAA) and interventions including therapy and learning.
He developed an interest in horse-human relationships and volunteers at a local RDA group. Richard now commits time, energy and money to support the development of EAA locally, and believes that NI is well placed to become a centre of excellence in these disciplines.
He is currently on the boards of NOW Group, a social enterprise supporting people with learning difficulties and autism, and Re-Gen Waste Ltd, both organisations have been very supportive of the fledgling initiatives in EAA.
Molly studied Law, completing a Commercial Law Masters at Bristol University and was called to the Bar in 2005. Molly qualified as a mediator and on returning to Belfast she completed a study on the future of mediation within the Northern Irish legal system. It was during this time that she first recognised the possibilities of alternative justice procedures and in particular different pathways for young people caught in the judicial system.
Horses have been a lifelong hobby for Molly and the time she spent in Baltimore after completing her A-levels inspired an idea for an equine centre that combined excellence in welfare and instruction with education and empowerment for young people. Molly’s experience has provided an invaluable insight to the equine industry in Northern Ireland which reaffirmed to her that working with horses instils skills and opportunities for people who may struggle in traditional educational pathways.
Molly has been working on a project to create a Centre of Excellence, education and empowerment at Giant’s Park in North Belfast and it was through this project that she came to be involved with One Equine. Molly is passionate about using the horse as a facilitator to improve the lives of people in Northern Ireland.
Louise Skelly has 40 years public sector experience, she has held several senior management positions managing community care, acute hospital, and regional services. For ten years she headed up the operations of the Patient and Client Council advocating on behalf of patients, service users, carers, and communities in Northern Ireland.
Louise is also a Lay Magistrate for the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service and is concerned about the loss of potential among many young people who do not have the best opportunities in life. Louise can see how EAA could offer them opportunities to personally grow, achieve and build new skills.
Coupled with her lifelong experience of working with animals (including horses), Louise believes that the goal of achieving optimal wellbeing must be underpinned by the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and the environment. Therefore, in 2019 Louise became actively involved in supporting the development of equine assisted activities in Northern Ireland.
Julie has a lifelong association with horses. She worked in racing yards in England & USA, and taught children to ride in her early career. Julie has been volunteering with Riding for the Disabled since 1993. She qualified as an RDA Coach in 1997, was appointed County Chairman for Co Antrim in 2010, and subsequently elected as Regional Chairman in 2015.
Her long association with RDA in Northern Ireland has led her to believe not only in the many benefits gained by participants and volunteers in all types of EAA, but also in the need for some sort of co-ordinating body, to advocate for the sector at the highest level and help facilitate the provision of these services to as many potential beneficiaries as possible.
After qualifying as an Occupational Therapist in Northern Ireland, Hazel worked in a range of clinical roles across different areas of practice including acute, community, adult services, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, and paediatrics within multi-professional and integrated teams before moving into management and leadership positions. As Department of Health Lead Allied Health Professions Officer, Hazel was the most senior advisor in Northern Ireland Government on AHP matters across the 13 AHP, she provided professional advice and support to Assembly Ministers and senior officials across Health and Social Care services on AHP Policy, Education and Practice.
Hazel is a great supporter of all AHP Professions and has also been involved with her own professional body in different roles at regional and national levels. Before leaving her post at Department of Health, Hazel was involved in securing funding which led to the development of a pilot AHP equine therapy course in Northern Ireland. Hazel was awarded an OBE in 2020 for her contribution to the health service in Northern Ireland.