Two Riding for the Disabled carriage drivers, who are heading into the world of the para elite, were part of an inspirational morning of presentations and awards at the RDA’s recent South East Regional Conference.
The event was sold out with delegates from across four counties. They were treated to several presentations from World Championship Para Driver, Joanne McNicol and current RDA National Champion, Sandra Spinner, while the RDA Regional Vet, Judy Scrine spoke on Equine Flu, Carol Perryer from Sight for Surrey who gave top tips on handling blind or visually impaired participants and Andrew Pinner spoke on his life as a Royal Coachman.
There was also the annual presentation of the regional awards by the presenters, as well as from the Regional Sponsor, Phillip Mumford of Cowan Architects with the Cowan Challenge Trophy in recognition of the Young Volunteer of the Year.
The morning started with Sandra Spinner for Cherry Park RDA Group (West Sussex) describing her journey from ailing physical health into the world of carriage driving which in a little over 3 years has seen her rise to be National RDA Champion.
Carol Perryer, a Habilitation Specialist from Sight for Surrey, gave some extremely useful advice on helping visually impaired or blind riders the best experience and highlighting how important it is to know the difference and subsequent impact on their lives.
Joanne McNicol from Kipling County RDA, described her journey from the RDA to the GB National Para Team culminating in being placed fourth at the World Championships in Kronenburg last year. Judy Scrine, the RDA’s Regional Vet, gave a fascinating presentation on Equine Flu and how best to manage it with the latest vaccination advice. The morning was completed with a humourous and fascinating insight into the Royal Mews by Coachman Andrew Pinner who is also an RDA volunteer.
Interspersed through the day were a number of well-deserved accolades and awards, not least of which was a presentation of a beautiful bronze resin sculpture called The Knight by Peter Newell to outgoing Chair, Lindsay Correa.
Lindsay has left a significant legacy over seven years of her rein, introducing numerous new initiatives and improved systems to the region to make it one of the most progressive in the UK. She’s achieved this with an energy and enthusiasm that has been second to none.
The presentation of the sculpture, theatre tokens and garden centre vouchers which came from donations from the Groups from across the region, was made by Pauline Roestenburg of Chalkdown Group. Lindsay will now join the RDA UK Trustees responsible for volunteer development.
Cowan Challenge Trophy for the Young Volunteer of the Year – Conor Crozier (Hope in the Valley): Conor started volunteering at Hope in the Valley as a D of E student, and soon became a much valued member of the team and stayed on Plumpton. “In my view, Conor embodies the true qualities and values of a volunteer, giving his time selflessly and consistently to the benefit of others who rely on his help” says Phillip Mumford, Managing Director of Regional Sponsor, Cowan Architects. “He sets and excellent example to us all at an age where there are so many other distractions and demands on his time. He is a worthy winner of the Cowan Trophy”.
Young Volunteer Hebe Award – Joe Roud (Fairlight Hall): starting as a participant with two side walkers, Joe is now a coach in training and competes at National level. In Joe’s own words ”lots of people helped me achieve. I can now help others”
Young Volunteer Hebe Award – Kate Pole (Quest): a volunteer with disabilities of her own, Kate has given total commitment and dedication to her role at Quest, taking great pride in everything she does. She has a maturity beyond her years and is now a coach in training.
Participant of the Year Titan Award – Isla Williams (Quest): from the start of her riding two years ago, Isla had very limited movement in her neck, shoulders, back and spine and her arms were locked bent at the elbow. Despite this, she has shown resilience and resolve, facing challenges head on and being creative to overcome her physical limitations, always rewarding us with her infectious smile. She is a true inspiration.
Horses of the Year – Jim (Cherry Park), Marigold (Epsom) and Fenella (Chalkdown)
Buchan Bobby Group Award – presented to Bradbourne (Kent) as the group who has battled through thick and thin, struggled to find horses who will stay fit enough to work and even take their drivers to great heights of regional and national competitions and a group who selflessly host regional events and lend their trainer, Sara Howe, for the wider benefit.
Tora Bray Award – Hilary Gilson, Chair, Cherry Park RDA. Despite her own difficulties, Hilary has steered the group through a tricky venue change and turbulent times, always as cheerful as she can be. She is totally committed to the Group and always trying new ways to raise funds and recruit new volunteers.
Volunteers of the Year – Jo Angear (Heron’s Ghyll), Diana Cotell and Joe Coulman (Epsom).
Long Service Awards
25 years: Graham Bourne and Anne A’hearne (Godstone) Suzi Dyer (Court Meadow), Jennifer Capon and Sue Underhill (Happy Landings), Gill Sherratt (Kingley Vale), Jenna Leight and Jan Hills (Bradbourne)
30 Years: Jan Abrahams (RDA UK), Gill Morrison and Fiona Bigg (Godstone).
35 years: Carol Rycroft (Court Meadow)
40 years: Stella Fuller (Horsehills), Paddy Porter (Court Meadow)
50 years: Trish Lebus (Happy Landings)