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Volunteer Stories

2008 Volunteer Recognition Awards

RDA Australia depends almost entirely on the efforts of some 3,000 volunteers throughout the country to assist with the delivery of programmes, administer centres and care for the horses on who so much depends.

Each week over 3000 volunteers at RDA centres across Australia donate their time to assist 4000 children and adults with disabilities enjoy the therapeutic benefits of horse related activities.’


Each year RDAA holds its national volunteer recognition and awards night to honour those volunteers without whom the organisation simply could not function. This year RDAA was honoured to have Councillor Kim McAliney, the Mayor of Wyndham Shire, to present the RDA Volunteer Awards. The RDAA National Office at Werribee is located in Wyndham Shire.

2008 RDA Young Volunteer of the Year

RDA is delighted to announce the RDA Young Volunteer of the Year is Christina Manzanelli from the RDA Carine Centre WA.

Christine has volunteered every Saturday at the Carine Centre for the past 3½ years. When attending she immerses herself in RDA life and is an outstanding role model for other volunteers and riders. She performs tasks assigned to her without question, requiring minimal supervision to deliver these important tasks.

Christine works with well with every rider and strives to challenge and bring out the best in each of them. She displays great empathy and manages to communicate well with each rider, volunteer and coach. Christine is a mature young woman and a quiet achiever who encourages other volunteers to follow her lead.

Christina has recently applied to become a Level ‘O’ RDA Coach and hopes to further her qualifications and experience in RDA. Her willingness to learn every aspect of RDA benefits both the centre and riders. She always attends fundraising days, games and coaching workshops. Recently she gave an excellent presentation at school which promoted RDA throughout the community. Unfortunately Christina was overseas at the time and was unable to personally receive the award on the night.

2008 RDA Young Volunteer of the Year (Runner Up)

2008 Young Volunteer Runner Up

The 2008 RDA National Volunteer Encouragement Runner Up Award went to Amy Joy. Amy joined RDA Victor Harbour Centre SA nearly four years ago. The Centre’s volunteers are mostly retired people and Amy is a great help with her boundless enthusiasm and energy.

All the horses are floated into the Centre and Amy is at the farm where the horses are kept early in the morning when it is an RDA day. She catches all the horses and gets them ready to float. She collects all the equipment that needs to be taken to the Centre.

On arrival at the RDA centre she gets all the equipment ready and helps the other volunteers with the grooming and saddling. If necessary she will ride any horses that need settling down before the RDA sessions start. During the riding sessions she helps by leading or side walking or carrying out any other chores that need doing. The older volunteers at the Centre find that she is a great help and an invaluable to the Centre and were delighted to nominate her for this award. Victor Harbour would love to see many more Amy’s volunteering at the centres.

Councillor McAliney was delighted to present Amy with the 2008 RDAA Young Volunteer of the Year Runner Up Award.

2008 RDA National Volunteer Encouragement Award

RDA is delighted to announce the 2008 RDA National Volunteer Encouragement Award goes to Mark Lloyd from Carine Centre RDA WA.

2008 National Volunteer Encouragement Award

Mark has been a volunteer at the Carine Centre for more than 4 years. He volunteers 2 full days a week and extra days as required. Mark has a very pleasant and confident manner and gets along well with all the riders and volunteers with whom he comes into contact.

Mark has readily accepted the role of volunteer supervisor and with a very capable team of men looks after the many and varied tasks associated with a RDA complex such as Carine. Mark follows up all requests for work in a quiet, efficient and confident manner; if he cannot do the job, he always knows someone who can!

Mark is also a competent and experienced horseman and provides valuable assistance to coaches as a leader and side walker. He has been able to gain the trust of some of the more challenging riders and in one case, one of the riders refused to ride until his friend, Mark, came back from holidays.

Councillor McAliney was delighted to present Mark with the 2008 RDA National Volunteer Encouragement Award

Michael Field Memorial Volunteer Award

This award was created in 1999 to honour Michael Field who made a huge contribution to RDAA during its early years. Michael acted as a volunteer from the formation of RDAA in 1979 until he passed away in 1997. He was the Association’s statistician as well as being involved as a volunteer with RDA Victoria. The trophy presented to the recipients of the award was one that Michael Field won during his equestrian career, and it is very fitting that this is now used to recognise the outstanding contribution that Volunteers make to this organisation.

RDA is delighted to announce that the RDA Michael Field Memorial Volunteer of 2008 is Ross Golden. Ross has volunteered with RDA for 13 years initially 2 days a week at South West Centre at Bunbury WA; Ross is a qualified Coach Centre and has been the Centre President, Coaching Coordinator, Horse Master, Committee Member and acts as a mentor to other coaches.

Ross has served as national president of RDA WA for the last 2 years and regularly attends National Company Meetings as WA State Delegate. Ross has conducted fund raising drive through stud service fees with WA Horse Breeders which has realised many thousands of dollars for RDAWA.

Ross continues to attend SW Centre twice a week despite his other responsibilities. His knowledge of horsemanship is widely respected and valued. He takes a great interest in the development of equine related therapy. He conducts workshops for volunteers on a regular basis and spends many hours training RDA horses. Coaches and trainee coaches look up to him and he has contributed greatly to the development of the SW Centre.

2008 Michael Field Memorial Volunteer Award

Councillor McAliney was delighted to present Ross with the 2008 RDA Michael Field Memorial Volunteer Award.

RDA Life Membership

RDA is delighted to award an honorary Life Membership to Pauline Perry. Life memberships are extremely special awards. Life membership must be proposed and seconded by Company delegates and then voted on by the Company. They are awarded only to people who have served the organisation in an exceptional way and over a dedicated period of time.

Pauline began her career in 1979 as a volunteer and later coach with the Peninsula RDA Centre (Victoria) Of all her RDA work, she considers this to be the most satisfying and rewarding, in addition to her office bearing positions at RDA. She remains an active and committed volunteer of RDA.

At State and management level, Pauline has been a Regional Coordinator, State Vice President and State President; Victorian Representative on National Council and Chair of the Victorian Training Committee.

At RDAA National Executive level, Pauline was elected as Vice President for Coaching and Safety in 1998; served as Chair of National Coaching and Safety Council; and, succeeded John Bennet as President of RDAA in 2003. She served as President until May 2005.

RDA Life Membership

At an international level, Pauline was elected Treasurer of the FRDI Executive Committee (Federation of Riding for the Disabled International) in 2006 at the FRDI National Congress in Brasila. Pauline is also a member of the Para Equestrian Selection Committee.

Philip Walliker RDA Australia Chairman was delighted to present Pauline with an honorary Lifetime Membership of RDA:

“Pauline’s contribution to RDAA has been exceptional. For two years she held the position of National President as well as retaining her role as Chair of the National Coaching and Safety Council. She has always retained her links back to the centre level and can be truly regarded as being involved in the organisation at all levels over a long period of time.”

RDA truly values its volunteer’s enormous contribution and commitment to this wonderful organisation. RDA would love to see many more people volunteer their time, energy and skills at RDA centres across Australia. RDA provides training, equipment and insurance to support its valued volunteers of all ages.

If you are interested in volunteering or would like to know where your nearest group is, please visit your State page via the map on the left.

New Horse Award

This year, one of RDA’s wonderful sponsors and dedicated supporters Catherine Shelley and Buddy England (who own and manage the Melton Equestrian Academy and house the Melton RDA Centre) announced a new annual award, ‘the Willy Award’, to honour the contribution of ‘the horse’ without whom RDA would not exist.

New Horse Award

Catherine is hugely supportive of all RDA projects and currently provides horses, truck and driver (Buddy) for the RDAV mobile unit and other specialist programs in Melbourne’s north and west.

New Horse Award

One of these school horses is “Willy”, a grey gelding who has carried many riders successfully in their competition endeavours. Willy is still actively involved in programs at the Melton Equestrian Academy however Cath and her partner Buddy England (musician and RDAV Patron) decided to celebrate his charismatic personality and loyal service by creating the “Willy Award” which is awarded to a horse competing at the National Dressage Championships who demonstrates patience, obedience, loyalty and a connection with its rider.

The 2008 winner of the award was “Elle” a mare part owned and ridden by Victorian, Chris Hall who is totally blind.

Grace Bowman