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Cambridge riding for the disabled

Cambridge Riding for the Disabled has taken top honours at Waipa’s biggest annual celebration of volunteers, the Trustpower Community Awards.

Voluntary groups from around the region gathered with representatives from Trustpower, Waipa District Council and parliament at the Sir Don Rowland’s Centre on Lake Karapiro, to hear how two secondary school students and 13 groups are making an impact on their community.

Trustpower Community Relations Representative Abbie Siely says Cambridge Riding for the Disabled stood out for the upgrades they had made to their facilities recently.

“Riding for the Disabled (RDA) is one of Waipa, and New Zealand’s, best known and well-respected community organisations. The work they do, day in day out, helping people with intellectual and physical disabilities develop confidence and esteem has earned them a place in the hearts of the community.

They bring pure joy and real therapy to people so deserving of compassion and empowerment. Young people who may experience self-doubt, isolation, frustration and limitations in other areas of their life blossom in confidence, esteem, mental and physical strength by spending time on a horse and in the company of these volunteers.

Over the past 12 months, the Cambridge division has commissioned and completed a long-planned electric rider hoist for disabled riders. It’s an impressive accomplishment for a smaller RDA group. They have installed a new concrete pathway from the arena to the administration building to enable safe wheelchair access. 

The group has more upgrades in the works. The horse preparation pen has been concreted and rubber matting is being installed, and improvements are planned for the grooming and preparation facilities. 

Cambridge RDA is working towards decreasing its dependence on donations and fundraising by hiring out its facilities outside of its programme times. This gives the community access to a covered equestrian facility and helps RDA to keep running costs low so that money is no barrier to families who wish to participate in the programme,” she says.

The Trustpower Community Awards celebrate the contribution of volunteers to our community. Miss Siely says Cambridge Riding for the Disabled is a strong example of volunteers making a real difference in their community.

“Fifty volunteers contribute 480 hours each month to provide this invaluable service. They run sessions twice weekly and every other Saturday. One volunteer leads the horse while another walks alongside to assist the rider. Others give their time to care for, feed and train the horses, maintain the riding facilities, stables and farmland. Volunteers are well supported, with RDA providing a comprehensive training programme for new recruits.

The groups committee is made up entirely of volunteers who meet once a month to oversee the group. A horse committee is charged with the welfare of the group’s horses and with the assessment and purchase of new horses suited to the programme. Three retired farmers volunteer their skills for farm maintenance and development of facilities, all of whom volunteer their time to the rider programme as well,” she says.

For winning the Supreme Award, Cambridge Riding for the Disabled received a framed certificate, a trophy, and $1,500 prize money. The group will go on to represent Waipa at the 2017 Trustpower National Community Awards, which take place in Queenstown next April.

Other winners at tonight’s Trustpower Waipa District Community Awards were:

Youth Community Spirit
Runner Up – Jessica Gosling
Winner – Luke van Gog

Heritage & Environment

Winner – Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust  

Health & Wellbeing

Commendation – Cambridge Community Marae Trust Board 
Commendation – Kainga Aroha Society Inc. 
Runner Up – Hospice Waikato – Cambridge Store 
Winner – Te Awamutu Community Health Transport Trust (Te Awamutu Health Shuttle)

Arts & Culture
Runner Up – Cambridge Society of Arts 
Winner – Cambridge Auxiliary Brass Band

Sport & Leisure

Commendation – Waipa Mountain Bike Club
Runner Up – Cambridge Badminton Club
Winner – Stragglers Rod & Kustom Club

Education & Child/Youth Development

Runner Up – 24-7 YouthWork
Winner – Te Awamutu Girl Guiding 

Supreme Winner 
Cambridge Riding for the Disabled