NEWS AND HAPPENINGS
FROM RDA TALL TIMBERS CENTRE
BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB
Thank you to Blacktown Workers Club. Tall Timbers Centre received a $10,000 ClubGRANT from Blacktown Workers Club to assist with the running costs and maintenance of the vehicles used to run the Centre.
The ClubGRANT scheme is a shared State Government-Club Industry program, funded by a 2.25% gaming machine tax rebate provided by the State Government to those registered clubs with gaming machine profits in excess of $1 million per annum.
Alan and Marlene Gollan represented Tall Timbers at the Cheque Presentation held at Blacktown Workers Club. Alan was pleased to get the opportunity to thank the members and Directors in front of an audience of over 800 people. They also enjoyed a lovely dinner and a great show.
RDA(NSW) Tall Timbers Centre is most appreciative of the continued support of Blacktown Workers Club.
Through Community TeamWorks, the people of Goldman Sachs contribute their ideas and expertise to drive tangible progress in communities where they work and live. At least one day a year, people from Goldman Sachs office work in partnership with local non-profit organisations around the world to help make a meaningful difference.
On Friday 21st July, a team of fifteen Goldman Sachs employees assisted Tall Timbers Centre with a working bee to clean and tidy the property ready for the new Semester. Cobwebs were removed, paths were swept, paddocks weeded, dead wood cleared away, the railing was scrubbed, edges snipped and grass mown. They only stopped for a yummy lunch or a well-deserved tea break. Thank you to Goldman Sachs for this great initiative and also for donating a new mower to Tall Timbers. We look forward to seeing you all again next year.
Dianne Regan - Manager Cards Service Management RaW ES Product Service Management
On February 3rd, the RaW ES Product Service Management team had the opportunity to help out at the Riding for Disabled Tall Timbers property at Box Hill. Not really knowing what lay ahead, a team of 15 volunteers spent the day painting oil on the walls of the indoor riding arena, de-cobwebbing, and repairing electric fences - very tiring for us office workers.
However feeling refreshed after a BBQ lunch and with one activity left to complete all 'our allocated tasks' the challenge was on … to apply oil to the outdoor arena fencing.
The team spirit kicked in, we worked together and with a sense of achievement we met the challenge. From our perspective it was very satisfying to be able to see the results of our efforts.
Fortunately the weather was kind and we did not have the 40+ degree days which meant we were able to complete all our activities.
It was great to work with team mates away from the normal work environment - getting messy for a worthy cause. The team had a great time and it is our aim to continue our involvement with Tall Timbers.
We all came away feeling a sense of achievement and we hope we have made a difference for the children starting out in 2017.
TALL TIMBERS 2016
When my name was announced, at the annual Christmas luncheon, as the RDA Tall Timbers Volunteer of the Year for 2016, it was a complete surprise and a very humbling experience, which left me speechless and quite overwhelmed at the time.
I have always had a love of horses, and in the early 70’s I rode in a few Gymkhanas’ with Ryde Pony Club and did riding lessons at a Horse Stud farm in Cherrybrook, which was sadly destroyed by a devastating bush fire and then developed into housing. I aspired to be a Mounted Policeman, but my working life took a different turn, and in later years I enjoyed the odd Trail ride and watching Dressage and Jumping events at Show’s.
After a workplace injury and being unable to work, I had been looking for ways, outside of my Scouting roles, to volunteer in the community, and happened to see the RDA stand at Rouse Hill in January 2011 promoting the Centre. I was informed of the program’s that RDA TT offers to disabled riders of various ages, and it immediately struck a chord with me, that I wanted to be a part of and involved in. RDA has provided the opportunity for me to assist with the horses (getting my much needed regular dose of horsey fix), and with the support of other Volunteers, to interact and help riders with disabilities enjoy the experience, sensations and thrills of horseback riding, in a safe and structured environment.
A car accident at the end of 2011 and other subsequent operations have left some enduring physical limitations and psychological challenges for me, but what I have found is that assisting at RDA has become part of my own recovery regime as well, and continues to be very much a positive motivating factor in my life. The physical exercise gained whilst leading or side walking the horses and riders in the indoor and outdoor arena’s, around the picturesque property, and in helping with some of the property maintenance, has been of great benefit in enhancing my mobility and muscle recovery. An unexpected benefit for me has also been with the mental stimulation achieved during the lessons, where the needs’ of the Rider’s and Horse’s requires my focused concentrated attention, awareness and alertness, so as to be ready to react to any unusual incidents or events that occur.
I aim to treat every rider as an equal, respectfully and calmly encouraging them, as much as they are able to, to engage in the riding programs’ games, activities and riding skills, and to establish a connection with their horse, but I have also come to realise that what works one week might be right out the window the next, and to be prepared for this. It is a challenge at times, being uncertain how best to effectively interact and communicate with some of the riders, and I hope that I don’t overload them with too much information during the lessons. Particularly for the riders who are not able to express themselves or verbally communicate back with me, I strive to pick up on their subtle, and not so subtle, signs and indicators, that things either aren’t travelling well, or that they are okay to continue. At times I may be a little stressed, panicky, anxious or down, but I hope this isn’t projected onto the riders or horses, and doesn’t affect their enjoyment of the classes. Seeing their faces light up during the lesson, or receiving a High 5, lifts my spirits and is all the thanks I need.
I am encouraged every day when I see firsthand the strength, courage, determination and perseverance of the riders living with a disability, who achieve so much in their own journey, with the assistance of our wonderful equine partners. For some riders just putting on a helmet, or approaching a horse at the mounting platform, or even staying in the saddle for more than 5 minutes seems impossible, like trying to climb Mt Everest. But little by little, advances are made, knowing that if needed, the rider can return to the relative safety of Base Camp (the bench seat), to regather themselves and build on their resilience, to try their advancement up the mountain again another day. It is amazing when you see some of the riders actually reach the peak, conquering their fears and hesitations, and being ready to face the next challenge. Seeing their confidence, balance, participation and riding ability progress is so rewarding.
I look forward too, when I’m available, to lending a hand at the special days held at RDA Tall Timbers, and also at the many Community events and fund raisers that the Centre has on the calendar each year. I’m continually inspired by the many wonderful devoted colleagues from RDA, who so readily give of their time and energy to support these events and the promotion of RDA to the wider public.
I’d like to thank the wonderful Coaches at our Centre, who continually encourage and instruct me as a volunteer, with Nicole, Joan, Christie, Nicole, Karen and Sophie from the Monday & Friday days. They all have a wealth of skill, knowledge and experience in horsemanship and in co-ordinating lessons, volunteers, and supervising the riders, who have such a varied range and level of physical and cognitive ability. They put so much time into the planning, leading and evaluation of the classes, with the care and safety of the Riders, Horses and Volunteers their number one priority.
I also greatly value the guidance that Chanida regularly gives, especially if a horse is having a bad day, or when something has upset their apple-cart that we need to be aware of, as well as in the safe grooming, handling and leading of the horses, and correcting if she sees any unsafe practices. And I’d like to thank her too for the daily care and training that she provides to all the horses at the Centre.
To all the Volunteer’s from the riding days and to Paul, Florien, Ewan, Florence, Pip & Charlie from the grounds and garden volunteers, you all contribute so much to the Riding programs, maintenance and upkeep of the Centre. It’s a joy to work alongside you and to engage in the variety of tasks and activities that this Centre has to offer. Thank you for your patience, encouragement and the friendship shown to me, and I hope to foster this for many more years to come.
To Nicole, Kerry and the Management team of RDA TT, thank you for your tireless efforts in managing all the operational and administrative aspects of the centre, and for giving me the opportunity to participate and serve in such a wonderful organisation. I count it a real privilege and blessing in my life.
I feel that I have gained so much more personally out of my involvement with RDA, the Riders, the Horses and the Volunteers than what I have contributed. Thank you, it is a great honour to be awarded and recognised in this way.
By Alan Gollan
I first heard of RDA when I joined the Parklea Garden Village Tai Chi class. Joan Guppy told me about Tall Timbers and how their donations assist with the care of a horse (now Kitty). The following week my wife and I went to the Royal Easter Show and saw Renee Smith and other riders in the RDA(NSW) competition for people with disabilities. That was it! The following Monday I went with Joan Guppy to have a look and have been going every Monday since. It was the riders, staff, horses and volunteers who got me in. I help as gatekeeper, side walker, leader and most importantly as a poo-picker-upper. As a joke I ask the new volunteers if they have done the Poo Picker Up course?
One of my most wonderful experiences was, with my co-sidewalker Lindsay, with Matthew. When his grandparents first started him he would scream and not go near a horse. When we finally got him on a horse he would look at his grandparents on the verandah and scream and cry. We saw this and decided to ask them to stay inside when he was on the horse. The next week he was fine and even laughed. From then on he used to run down from the top gate to get his helmet and boots on to ride.
Early in my volunteering I saw the huge cost of running Tall Timbers and decided to try to help. Since then I have obtained regular donations for three horses and obtained $25000 from Blacktown Workers Club.
Another thing I do, and enjoy, is the sausage sizzle. Every few months we cook and sell 600-700 sausages and 18-20 kilos of onions, plus drinks and raise quite a bit of money for the Centre.
I go to Tall Timbers on Monday mornings 5 foot 9 and come home Monday afternoons 10 foot tall!
At least one day a year people from the offices of Goldman Sachs work in partnership with local non-profit organisations around the world, contributing their expertise and ideas to help make a meaningful difference.
On Friday 22nd July a team from Goldman Sachs in Sydney gathered at Tall Timbers Centre to help us clean, beautify and maintain our buildings and property. The team split into smaller groups to repair fences, clean the buildings and extend the sensory garden.
The weather was kind and it was a very productive day. We appreciate the hard work and generosity of the Goldman Sachs Team.
CLASSROOMS WITHOUT BORDERS
By Aidan Lester
I am currently studying a Masters of Teaching (Primary) degree at Western Sydney University. One of the units I am undertaking this semester is titled ‘Classrooms without Borders’ and is focussed on working with people from marginalised groups, or that have special needs. A core aspect of this unit is partaking in ‘service learning’, which essentially means to combine community service with active learning experiences.
I was very fortunate to be able to complete my 25 hours of service learning with RDA. From a pre-service teacher’s perspective, the knowledge I have gained at RDA has been invaluable as it has provided me with a rich learning experience that could not be facilitated in a university environment.
The key lesson I have taken away from this experience is that each child is unique. RDA utilises a program that works to motivate, encourage, and engage participants of all abilities, no matter how disadvantaged they may be in other learning contexts. During my time at RDA I have personally witnessed a transformation in students as they gain self-confidence through engaging in a range of activities and challenges.
From a personal perspective, the warm supportive environment of RDA has reiterated my understanding of how powerful community support can be. To come to RDA and see a large group of volunteers offering their time to help those in need is truly inspiring. I can honestly say that some of the most caring people I have ever come across are those who I met at RDA.
I would like to thank Kerry and Nicole for allowing me to complete my service learning at RDA and providing me with an experience I will never forget. I’d also like to thank Joan, Christie, Sandra, and Robyn for teaching me ways I can engage with students who have special needs.
I believe my experience at RDA has shaped my approach to teaching students with special needs, and when I do graduate and become a primary teacher, I will have this amazing experience to reflect on.
JEN AND BEC WALDEN
The title!! What a shock! What a privilege!
I have always loved horses – what girl doesn’t? I had even owned horses and competed in my life prior to marriage. Full time work and three girls kept me busy. Then one day my youngest (15 at the time) uttered those terrifying words ……..”Mum, I want a horse.” Well the thoughts that went through my mind were many and varied, such as Where do we get the money? Where will we keep it? What happens when she wants to go riding outside a paddock? She doesn’t even know how to lead a horse, let alone care for and ride one! I hoped she would forget the issue but the subject kept being raised. One day I met some ladies at a stand at Rouse Hill shops, asking for volunteers for RDA. I had heard of the group and so asked all the questions possible and went home armed with ideas. Several Saturdays later my two youngest, two of their friends and I started our volunteer life with RDA. We were given basic instructions on the dos and don’ts, had a quick rundown of the lesson structure and were shown around the areas which we would need to access. So, armed with the basics we were ready to start our first lessons. That was January 2013.
Since then I have learned heaps – and so has my daughter! We now know all the basics of catching, grooming, saddling and leading the horses the RDA way. We help out with games and activities and so get a chance to really interact with the riders. Sometimes we lead the horses or sidewalk to assist the riders. We have been lucky enough to help out at dressage days and at the Mounted Games where the more advanced riders get to show off their skills. We were invited to help out at the Sponsors’ Day where we got to meet the wonderful people who sponsor the horses. We are now confident enough to help teach new vollies the “RDA way”. What started as a way of getting information into my daughter has now become a real way to give back to society. The trouble is we get more out of helping than we could ever give to the system. It is great fun! The feeling of helping others and belonging to the group is wonderful. The coaches we work with are helpful and considerate. The Horse Manager is brilliant. The horses are the most wonderful mounts ever. The riders are many and varied. The other vollies are keen and enthusiastic. Everyone involved is friendly and outgoing. What is there not to like about being a vollie with RDA? Nothing I can think of really. Everyone should try it out.
On retiring from teaching five years ago I was looking for a new interest and I thought of RDA. In my teaching career I had some experience of working with children with an intellectual disability as well as those with autism.
I have had enormous pleasure in watching the progress of the children as they return each year. I started off feeling in awe of the ability of some of the volunteers but watched carefully and hopefully learnt! I also became involved in other areas such as the Castle Hill Show, Model Railways canteen, barbecues and even cleaning the toilets. This year I joined the Committee which has given me greater insight into the working of RDA Tall Timbers as a whole.
It is so rewarding to see the progress of children who may initially be unsure of touching a horse and then, eventually, don’t want to dismount at the end of their lesson! There is also a great camaraderie amongst the volunteers at lunch-time and there is always fun around the lunch table. Although we come from many background we all seem to blend together and it is all this and more which keeps me coming back each year.
COMBINED RDANSW AND NSW MOUNTED POLICE DISPLAY
By Kerry Souter, Administrator RDATT
RDA (Riding for the Disabled) NSW were privileged to join the NSW Mounted Police in a combined riding display in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. I joined the throng of photographers to try to get some good shots of the proceedings. Following weeks of secrecy and security checks, plotting and planning, the day finally arrived of the Royal visit. It was an early start for all as we had to arrive at the Mounted Police unit at Redfern bright and early before the road closures for the briefing and practice.
After an impressive display of riding and police training methods, RDA horses and riders from Tall Timbers and Manning Great Lakes Centres entered the arena to demonstrate RDA disciplines including our Connections Program as well as riding for rehabilitation and therapy.
They also had a quick, fun bending race before forming a troop line and meeting the Prince and the Duchess. Tall Timbers’ Rider, Renee Smith was selected to present Prince Charles with the 40yr anniversary RDA Book and Elaine Van Es, from Tall Timbers and the Board of Directors, presented the Mounted Police with RDA badges. After the dignitaries had left we were invited to mingle with members of the Mounted Police Unit and guests and enjoy morning tea.
COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA
ACCOUNTING REPORTING OPERATIONS
By Keoni Yang, Senior Analyst
The typical day of the Accounting Reporting Operations Team of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia usually begins with a cuppa, booting up our computers and for the next ten hours tackling and juggling figures and formulas on Excel spreadsheets and accounting software.
The breath of fresh air figuratively and literally that is the RDA Tall Timbers facilities gives our team the opportunity to appreciate that we can be a part of a community and contribute to its wellbeing in the smallest nuances. The efforts here done by the regular volunteers are certainly commendable and admirable and it was a privilege to work together as a team of 40 strong, keen accountants and volunteers alike, ready to tackle the thistles, sweep, clean, weed, mow, lift, paint and carry.
Every member of the team played their part and it was a meaningful experience to work with the team at Tall Timbers. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of your community. We look forward to maintaining this bond and friendship for years to come.
ORDER OF AUSTRALIA MEDAL
Joan Edwards has been a dedicated and reliable volunteer at Riding for the Disabled, “Tall Timbers” Centre since February 1976. She volunteers each Monday and assists when she can if other coaches are unable to attend on their normal days. Over the years she has taken on the extra responsibility and study to become a Senior Coach, RDA NSW Assessor and since 2010 a Coaching and Safety Panel member of RDA NSW.
Joan’s knowledge of horses, riding and a range of disabilities are a great advantage to our service. She has passed on her knowledge to many volunteers, trainee coaches and coaches during her time with RDA. Over the years, hundreds of people with disabilities have benefited from her coaching and knowledge of disabilities. Riders benefit in many ways including improved balance and co-ordination, increased self-esteem, improved communication and learning social skills to assist with daily living, all of this in a relaxed and caring environment.
As well as her regular weekly classes, Joan is involved with and again volunteers, for many other aspects of our service such as assisting to organise Mounted Games activities including designing the course for Horse of the Year competition at State level and Dressage competitions. As an Assessor for RDA NSW she travels throughout the state to assess RDA Centres and people wishing to become Assistant Coaches or Coaches. This also involves marking theory papers, assessing practical exams, keeping up to date with procedures and as there are not many assessors available, Joan is required often. She is always happy to assist and makes the time to fit in all of these duties.
Some of Joan’s history with RDA includes: taking on the role of Regional RDA Representative for the Sydney Metropolitan RDA Centres from 1999 to 2004. Part of the job description for Regional Representatives is to assist centres and their committees on policies and procedures, ensuring all operations adhere to RDA safety guidelines, solving any grievances, co-ordinate competition dates between centres and to report periodically to RDA NSW State Office. Joan was a very competent and respected Regional Representative.
During 1999 Joan was awarded RDA NSW Regional Volunteer of the Year and also received Life Membership to RDA “Tall Timbers” Centre. She has also been a Committee Member of our Centre for five years being 2000 to 2005 helping to plan fundraising functions, future activities and maintain the smooth running of the Centre. During 2008 Joan was nominated by the RDA “Tall Timbers” committee for RDA NSW Volunteer of the Year.
On Sunday 21st March 2010, at an award Ceremony to celebrate the commencement of NSW Seniors Week, Joan Edwards was one of the sixty award winners from across the State to be presented with an Achievement Award. Her award was in the category of Community Service/Volunteering. The NSW Seniors Week Achievement Awards are a prestigious recognition of NSW seniors for their contribution to the development of our community, for their leadership and for their initiative. The awards provide an opportunity to formally thank older people for the contributions that they make to the quality of life in our state.
Joan is always keen to attend any extra training which may be of benefit to the riders and volunteers. She is willing to learn new techniques and games which can be used in classes to make the lessons more beneficial and interesting for both riders and volunteers. She regularly attends RDA local and state workshops to continue upgrading her knowledge and is also involved in the planning of the content of some of these workshops so that others can improve their knowledge and skills.
Joan has dedicated countless hours over the years to assist with fundraising for our Centre, including lamington drives, Castle Hill Show catering, BBQs, Book Fairs, Canteens, Trivia Nights, raffles and the sale of un-needed saddlery. She also opens her own garden in the spring months to the public to enjoy her lovely property and provides tours and Devonshire teas. She also helps out with the maintenance of our equipment, transporting horses and manning promotional stands to promote RDA and encourage others to become volunteers.
Joan assisted in the planning of our improved facilities at Box Hill and also funded a much needed shade area over the horse yards.
She is still very active at a “grass roots” level and has capably taken on more responsibility which is essential for the smooth running of Riding for the Disabled Association NSW.
We can always count on Joan to be there and to do things for RDA when necessary. Joan is reliable, knowledgeable and an inspiration to all.
WHY I VOLUNTEER By Fran Prudames
I was absolutely astounded when Karen called my name as the recipient of the 2014 Volunteer Award. I really don’t feel I do any more than the many other volunteers which enable Tall Timbers to run so smoothly.
I have done volunteer work for many organizations over the years including working with disabled children, working with families that are experiencing difficulties with young children through the Hills Family Centre, working at the Equestrian Centre during the 2000 Olympic Games here in Sydney as well as being involved in all sorts of programs when my 3 children were at school (a long time ago now!!). I have now had to resort to helping in the classroom with my 7 year old grandson!! I just love working with children.
I first knew of RDA when they were in Conrad Road (just around the corner from where I now live) and my daughter actually learnt to ride there as able bodied people were able to do this all those years ago. However, when the Hills Family Centre program closed down I was looking for another avenue where I could use my “professional volunteering” skills (as my husband calls them!) and saw an advert in our local paper. I thought this would be something different but would still fulfil my love of children and satisfy the joy of being around horses (even though I have never owned one, I love them and rode regularly when I was younger). Having worked with disabled children in the past over many years I thought I may be of some assistance in this field. Well, that was the start of a great relationship between myself and RDA. I joined the Committee not long after starting with RDA and I have loved working with the other Committee members. I have worked on a number of different days since I began, and everyone I have met has been just great. I think we must have the nicest group of volunteers anywhere. I actually get really disappointed when I can’t come on Fridays for one reason or another. I just love the look on the children’s faces when they are on horseback and the way they all strive so hard to do the allotted activities no matter what their level of disability. Their relationship with their horse is wonderful to see as is their progress throughout the semester.
I intend to be a very long term member of the RDA team. This program that we run is just so rewarding for the children and volunteers alike and one has to go a long way to find an area in which they can volunteer that gives so much back to the volunteer and yet does so much, in a very different way, for the children.
WHY I HELP RDA By Elaine Van Es
Why I decided to help RDA? Chance. I just happened to find an ad on Volunteer Australia Website calling for people to lead horses. Only prerequisite “ability to walk in sand”. Needing time to de-stress and remove myself from my desk, I made the call.
What I get out of it? Escapism. That sounds terrible, but what I found at TT was refreshingly honest people, “real people” doing miraculous work, creating a fun environment against surmountable odds for the benefit of others. Why I continue to volunteer at RDA is purely selfish. To be surrounded by real people, doing amazing work for others’ benefit. Combining my love of horses and kids and being able to help, in any way I’m needed. I am humbled in our riders’ presence, by their sheer ability and determination to achieve. Friendships forged will stay with me a lifetime.
By Eilish Sullivan
While conducting research at Riding for the Disabled (RDA), I have read a lot of articles and books on the benefits that horses have for humans.
But there is nothing like getting to experience it firsthand.
My experience at RDA was amazing and the smiles and laughter that fill the place is just so joyous to be around. It makes you feel like you did something wonderful today not only in your own lives but in the lives of those around you.
One of the funniest moments I ever witnessed at RDA was when Girraween Public School was learning how to trot. The kids had been learning to listen to the horse’s feet and to rise and sit in time with the horses walk. Most kids got the hang of this when we were just walking. The class gathered together and one by one a student was lead around by their leader in a trot – well straight away out went the rising and sitting we just learnt! Because instead it was filled with giggles as the children got to experience something new and to them it brought total excitement to the forefront! The utter joy which was being heard and displayed on the kids’ faces filled my heart – and I am sure the leaders around me – and caused us to join the kids in laughter.
Not every session is like this and sometimes it can be a bit more of a struggle but nonetheless rewarding. The biggest fear one can have is taking that leap and placing total trust in the horse. Once you see the kids do that, you get to see a totally different side of them.
I recently read a book by Joanne Schoenwald that says horses have the ability to heal, teach and change lives; more often than not the horses that have been rescued end up rescuing us. I think in this situation it is so true – the horses that live at RDA change who we are and make us better people. They teach us things the people around us don’t know how too. They surrounded us with unconditional love and you know what you see is what you get.
By Alicia Meehan, UWS Student
Earlier this semester, Rachael and I were required to partake in a practical component for the unit known as Classrooms Without Borders. This unit, offered at UWS, works to bring theoretical knowledge to life, and give pre-service teachers an opportunity to work closely within a diverse community. It is through Classrooms Without Borders that we both had a fantastic opportunity to volunteer for RDA which is something that changed us both personally and as a future teacher.
There are huge amount of theories surrounding service learning, and the benefits it brings for pre-service teachers who are entering into the workforce. This is because opportunities are provided to gain teaching knowledge you would not gain within the classroom, where RDA became the perfect resource. Whilst at RDA for those few short weeks, both of us developed skills such as patience and persistence that will not only help us be better teachers, but also better people.
From day one at arriving at RDA, we automatically felt welcome and as part of the team as everyone was helpful, friendly and taught us what we needed to know. It was great to meet the students of RDA and learn about them all, where each week it was great to see them gain a little more confidence and see their skills further develop. As the weeks went on, we were able to learn more about each individual student, and also the huge amount of benefits horse riding can bring for people with disabilities, which is a truly amazing thing.
I speak for both Rachael and myself when I thank RDA for having us and teaching us so many things we couldn’t learn in other placement settings. Within my bachelor’s degree I had many practicals for units which became like a chore, but upon starting my masters and being able to undertake my practical at RDA, I finally found joy in attending a practical component of a unit as I thoroughly enjoyed coming each week, as did Rachael. Our time at RDA was very special to us both as we connected with so many people, and seeing the joy on each student’s face just reinforced that’s what life is all about – happiness!
A huge thankyou goes out to all the staff at RDA (including the horses) for having us and making our time with you so informative and enjoyable.
Well, what a pleasant surprise it was for me when Karen O’Neill (President) informed me that I was made a Life Member of Riding for the Disabled Tall Timbers Centre.
It was totally unexpected and I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who nominated me for this award.
I’ve been involved with RDA Tall Timbers for about ten years as a Thursday vollie and the past seven years as a member of our Committee as well. The experience has been a rewarding and enjoyable one for me.
Much has been achieved in the past ten years at Tall Timbers. The construction of new buildings and facilities for staff, volunteers, riders and horses has greatly improved conditions at this Centre.
The continued growth and success of this Centre is testament to the capable team we have. The Administrator and staff, the Coaches, the Committee, our large team of volunteers and our amazing horses are all part of a well oiled machine called Tall Timbers.
I look forward to my next ten years at Tall Timbers. Hopefully it will be as rewarding and satisfying as the previous ten years.
By Karen O’Neill, Hon President
Jim has been involved with Tall Timbers for many years. His wife Wendy is a long standing volunteer and coach and has encouraged Jim to also be involved, which he has done expertly.
Jim has been involved in many working bees, handy man jobs, on call for emergencies, helped with the building of this complex, assists with the CSOs, cooked and fed us and the public at many BBQs and also raised awareness and fundraised independently for Tall Timbers. All of this is very much appreciated and essential for the running of this Centre.
This year we thanked Jim for his personal fund raising efforts raising $6,000 which has been a great contribution. Jim Moreland also took on the essential position of project manager for the new building and facility that has better storage areas and a room for expansion of our programs. He engaged all the tradespeople, co-ordinated the whole project and called in many favours from various people. He has spent countless hours here and went above and beyond his anticipated involvement for this building. We cannot thank him enough for his dedication and tireless work to keep this project progressing along. The new building is named to honour his huge input to this now completed project - Horses and More...land.
What a surprise!
To be recognised amongst my peers with such appreciation was a little overwhelming and totally unexpected.
In my opinion, anyone of the volunteers would have been well deserved recipients of this award.
When you think about it, this organisation wouldn't run without the generous assistance of the like minded volunteers, so when accepting this award I was somewhat humbled and feel that I was accepting it on behalf of all of the volunteers.Putting my feelings aside, I have put in a fair effort at RDA over the past 4 years and in recent times, studied hard, in the process of receiving my coaching certificate.
It is great to think that ordinary people like myself can make a difference to extraordinary people and it is most rewarding to see the smiles on the faces of each rider.
TALL TIMBERS HORSE OF THE YEAR - OZZY
By Karen O’Neill, Hon President
The Coaches’ choice for 2013 Horse of the Year was Ozzy. You might feel a bit surprised at this choice but here are a few Ozzy facts you might not realise –
Ozzy joined TT in 2005. Donated by John & Sandra Wright after being their all rounder pony. He is now 23 years old and is Kahlua’s best friend and paddock mate.
He has always looked after his riders. Slow and steady is his motto and nothing fazes him and the coaches know they can trust him with riders coming off the lead. He went through a bit of a “black patch” this year where he would plant his feet and nothing would convenience him to move until he wanted to. A lesson to us all that you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. Ozzy has taught some new skills to our riders. Homework for riders has been to co-ordinate their legs to kick encouragement to Ozzy’s well padded sides. Another skill to learn is to team up with their leaders for verbal and physical timing to tell Ozzy it is time to walk on.
Ozzy is the only TT horse team member I know off that has leader and side walkers singing along loudly the famous Aussie song “Come on Aussie, come on, come on”. It did not seem to make him walk any faster so the rest of the group will wait for him to catch up. At the end of the day, Ozzy is a low maintenance pony with a big heart that is an important and unique member of the TT horse team.
I started riding Ozzy when I was 4yrs old. Ozzy is a big boy who has pretty patterns and colours on him. He was very gentle and well behaved with me, I was little and nervous. He looked after me well. The first time I trotted was with Ozzy - that made me smile.
I had a break from Ozzy for a while and I started riding him again when I was 8yrs old. Once again he was a good boy to me, except he always liked to eat the grass, but once I showed him who was boss, he was my friend.
Ozzy and I have become good friends and we have gone in the mounted games together. He was good and I got ribbons.
CLASSROOMS WITHOUT BORDERS
By Jade Buchert, UWS Uni Student
Whilst completing my BA/Pathway to Primary Teaching degree this semester I was given the opportunity to volunteer at RDA Tall Timbers as part of a unit at UWS called Classrooms Without Borders. This unit provides opportunities for students as pre-service teachers to prepare for their future employment as a graduate teacher in primary education. On completion of the academic text and the professional experience at RDA I will have fulfilled my required outcomes that align with the graduate attributes: Demonstrate more developed understanding in an educational/social/cultural setting, critically reflect upon learning and teaching practises in the relevant strand, develop innovative ways to initiate change in educational settings and the broader community and finally collaborate and liaise with colleagues to build strong transdisciplinary practise.
There is recognition that involvement in service-learning can impact positively on the development of pre-service teachers professionally, culturally and academically. My experience volunteering at RDA was enjoyable and I am grateful to have been given the opportunity that has enhanced my academic and personal learning. Interacting with children on different levels was rewarding in terms of building my knowledge and understanding of different ways to deal with different issues that may be associated with different disabilities, physical or intellectual. I have learnt throughout my RDA experience the importance of community involvement as a necessity in providing a huge difference to the lives of children or adults with special needs and disabilities.
I would like to thank the staff and volunteers at RDA for taking the time to educate and mentor me through the highly organised and effectively run daily routine at Tall Timbers. It was inspiring to see how motivated and committed the volunteers are in helping others that are vulnerable in our community. I would also like to thank the staff responsible for the selection and care of the beautiful horses and ponies that are provided for the equestrian activities, the horses were a joy to work with and cared for at the highest possible standard. I hope on the completion of my degree to be able to return to Tall Timbers as a volunteer in the future.
ROUSE HILL TOWN CENTRE SANTA PARADE
By Alison & William Neil
On Saturday the 2nd of November RDA was invited to participate in the Santa Coming to Town Parade at RHTC. When the invitation was extended to the riders I was excited to be able to show my appreciation to the wonderful staff and volunteers of RDA and come along to support them.
The atmosphere on the day was very exciting, so many great organisations being represented in support of the amazing work they do providing activities for the local community.
After some organising, we were given our position in the parade, a few further instructions and we were on our way. Although at first I wasn't sure how my son would go with the noise and the frequent stopping and starting of the parade he really stepped up and was incredibly well behaved. He walked down the Main Street on his wooden horse, waving to the crowd & enjoying the attention. At times we could stop and enjoy the Christmas characters that were part of the parade, some favourites like Santa & Mrs Claus, The Grinch as well as Alex the Lion, Captain Hook, Jack Sparrow and Tinkerbell.
Although the day was warm everyone participated without fuss and the parade was really well received by the crowds. It felt great to be giving something back to a team who deserve our support, I really do appreciate the time and effort that goes into the programs run by RDA, we have not ever been able to see our son so relaxed and focused as he is when he rides his horse Indi, if only we could have him in the saddle during classroom activities!
Thanks again for a great morning, we both had great time and would love to be involved next year.
RIDER OF THE YEAR – RENEE SMITH
Renee’s RDA journey is part of what RDA is all about. Helping her regain her independence, fitness and co-ordination and joy of horse riding after her accident has been an inspiration for all concerned.
Her courage and generous nature has endeared her to her fellow riders, coaches, volunteers and amazed her doctors. She has also contributed with fundraising and is a supporter of RDA to help continue our programs. Renee is an inspiration to all of us and is a deserving recipient of the Tall Timbers Rider of the Year award.
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR - LYNN WHITE
Lynn has a generous and giving nature and her dedication to RDA Tall Timbers for the day to day routine and her extra expertise is very much appreciated.
She is involved with many fundraising events as an organiser and behind the scenes worker. She also attends many functions on behalf of RDA, as a speaker and promoting what RDA provides for people with disabilities. Also she has committed to helping at RDANSW Mounted Games for a number of years, again helping behind the scenes but as essential part of making the day enjoyable for all participants.
Congratulations to Lynn White – a deserving recipient of the Tall Timbers Volunteer of the Year Award.
VOLUNTEER ENCOURAGEMENT AWARD - NICOLE FLEMING
Nicole’s enthusiastic nature, new ideas for our riders and helping with events at our Centre has been, at times, like a breath of fresh air. Her commitment to RDA will help keep our centre growing. She has also in a short time, helped with fundraising and promoted RDA. Nicole is a very deserving recipient of the Tall Timbers Volunteer Encouragement Award.
“My first encounter with RDA Tall Timbers was in the very early eighties when I used go out to Conrad Rd, with my school, Castle Hill Primary. That early memory was then instilled in me. I volunteered at Ryde in the mid nineties for a short period of time then found that my hours with work made it very difficult. Just over two years ago I was walking through Rouse Hill Town Centre when I saw the volunteer recruitment drive. Both my children were now at school so I had Mondays free and I had been thinking about RDA for many years so I believe it was a sign that it was time to go back. I wanted to do something for myself and at the same time being able to help people and bring a wonderful smile to their face. Once I started attending every Monday I realised I wanted to do more than just volunteer. I got so much satisfaction working with the horses and especially the children. I decided I wanted to be a coach. I embarked on my study amongst running a business and my children. I was kept busy but I loved it. I sat my assistant coach in September 2011 and then proceeded to train for my coaching, successfully completing this in June 2012. It has been a very big learning curve at times and quite challenging dealing with all the children and learning about their disabilities and the challenges that they and their families face every day. I have learnt so much and grown as a person.” Nicole Fleming
BILL HARVEY MEMORIAL AWARD FOR MOST IMPROVED SATURDAY RIDER- BERNICE
I enjoy horse riding every Saturday. I like to ride my horse Daphne. I like to go on the trail rides and do the activities in the riding arena.
I like horses because they are beautiful and they are lots of fun to ride. It doesn’t matter how I am feeling before horse riding, but once I am on or near a horse, I am always very happy. I was very happy when I was the most improved rider in the Saturday groups. I had worked hard all year and I didn’t think I’d win that award. I am looking forward to riding again this year.
KURINGAI LIONS CLUB RIDER ENCOURAGEMENT AWARD FOR A SATURDAY RIDER - FAELAN PHILLIPS
I started riding at Tall Timbers when I was 7. I’m almost 12 now, so I’ve been riding for almost 5yrs. When I started riding I rode Angel, then Ozzy, then Apex, and now Ishmar. Horse-riding is my equal favourite sport with swimming. I like the games we play while we learn to ride. Riding by myself is a bit tricky, but I really like it. I have to sit up, concentrate and control the horse
carefully. I can’t wait to see Ishmar and start riding this year.
I was first introduced to Tall Timbers in 2003 during my school's yr 10 work experience program. I enjoyed the experience, so I returned as a volunteer straight after I finished my last HSC exam, and continued on into the next year where my Uni timetable allowed. Volunteering was not only a very rewarding experience, but more importantly, for a young person it was a learning experience. I took away many life lessons from spending time with the riders especially. “Focus on what I can do, not what I can’t” became very important to me a few years later, and was the attitude that helped me stick at it and not give up. Thank you Tall Timbers for taking on young volunteers and giving them the opportunity to learn as I did.
In 2008 I sustained an injury that doctors first thought was causing sciatica, and would right itself in time. Unfortunately my condition worsened, and scans 2 months later showed what I had really done. The bottom part of my spine had been moved over the right (luckily still protecting most of my spinal cord though), leaving the edge of some of my vertebrae holding my weight, damaging discs and nerve roots for my legs- my right leg in particular, causing weakness and loss of sense in some areas. I’ve spent the past three years working with a team at a rehab hospital, and while everyone there was nice to be around, I struggled with the changes.
My injury meant that I had to give up horse riding (showjumping was my chosen horse sport), but it was always something that I wanted to do again. When my doctors and rehab team finally consented to the idea of trying riding again, I decided to ask Nicole for advice. She was able to find a space in a class, riding the trust-worthy and bomb-proof Apex. I started riding at the beginning of this year, while at the same time taking a break from the formal rehab hospital program. People would ask why I was riding again when it caused increased pain, fatigue, and carried a risk of further damage if I had a bad fall from a horse. Tall Timbers gives us riders the chance to show that disability doesn’t rule our lives. A special thank you to the horses who take good care of us and adapt to the different ways that we ride.
At first there was some scepticism as to whether swapping a team of therapists and their rehab plan for a 45 min sit on a walking horse was such a good idea or if it would bring any benefit. My neuro physio and I spent last year playing left and right games, mirroring her movements, walking while we throw a ball back and forth etc. By the end we hadn’t really progressed far and I was quite frustrated! I saw her the week before I started riding, and then again in late September. She was amazed at the changes she saw and especially how I was moving with more symmetry. Here was only one of the pieces of evidence that horse riding therapy combined with the games designed by the coaches has great benefits.
I’ve been able to share more exciting changes with Joan and the Monday volunteers. My previously uneven walking gait is looking more balanced, I now have less falls thanks to improved balance, I can take my feet in and out of the stirrups by myself, and I smile, laugh and have fun. These changes may seem small, but to me they are really exciting, as my progress with other rehab programs had reached a plateau. It encouraged me to not give up hope that I can still keep improving.
Being at Tall Timbers has also helped to change my attitude towards my disability. Previously my stubborn and determined will meant that I wanted to go on being “normal”- I wanted to still do everything by myself, having people do things for me would leave me feeling useless, I didn’t like accepting living aids, and therefore made life harder for myself than what it needed to be. Thank you Tall Timbers for being an environment safe from judging, where I could learn to be me and that there’s nothing wrong with that. Accepting people’s help is now something that fills in the gaps between the things that I can do, and together we are a team.
I cannot thank every involved at Tall Timbers enough for the piece of my life that you’ve given back to me. While at times it hasn’t been easy and frustrating when I want to ride like I used to, being around people who encourage me to focus on what I can do rather than trying to be like others, and seeing examples of para equestrians who develop their own way of communicating with their horse, has been a great motivator. I am now determined to continue riding and developing my own riding ability. Sometimes just being able to smile and have fun is more than enough, so I thank the Tall Timbers team for making therapy fun.
By Nicole King, Paralympic Groom
What a Journey London 2012 was! After an 18 month lead up the final few days in Melbourne were nail biting, exciting and filled with anxious moments. It was a very special day when the horses were presented with their uniform, Green & Gold rugs! With the final vet check complete and Kiwi was given the all clear to go there was a surreal moment watching Kiwi leave on the truck bound for the airport! There wasn’t a dry eye around as that was the moment the riders realised they were definitely going to the Paralympics! 36 hours later we were in Sparsholt UK seeing the horses for the first time after their flight. We had had a message to say they had arrived safe but it wasn’t until you see them in the flesh that you believe it.
Sparsholt College was an amazing venue for our training camp and we settled into a routine fairly quickly. Horses were safe in their stables at night with newly installed motion sensor alarmed barn doors just for us. There was plenty of food for us with 3 full meals a day I was so full I barely ate any chocolate in the first couple of weeks! There were a few organised outings to give us a break in the outside world which were a relief however it was still hard to really get into the spirit of sightseeing. We travelled to Cardiff to attend the Australian Paralympic Team launch and collect our own Green & Gold uniform. It was very exciting that day to see the whole team together for the first time and walking into Cardiff Castle with locals cheering us in and the Australian Flag flying on top of the original castle! Sparsholt College had organised a demonstration evening for our horses and riders to put some pressure on and iron out some kinks before heading to Greenwich. It was great to see some familiar faces with Joan Guppy (Monday volunteer) and Marion & Norrie Valentine come along, they were there on their own holiday and were also very excited to be part of the Paralympic experience.
When the day finally dawned to head to Greenwich the team were so excited, we knew we were ready. The Grooms, horses and Team Vet all headed to Greenwich on a very fancy horse transport truck and we waved our riders goodbye as they headed to the Paralympic village.
Once in Greenwich we set about setting up the stables for our 2 week stay, we thought we were going to have to squeeze all our gear into 2 stables, imagine 4 tack boxes, bales of hay & bags of feed, freezer, physio table, 3 scooters in two stables but when we arrived we found we had 4 stables to set up, Luxury! The riders eventually made it to the stables after getting lost in the village and later that afternoon the horses were out of their stables and under saddle. I remember Hannah riding past with the biggest grin on her face, “My first ride! I’m here”. The next week we carried on with our routine each day building up Kiwi & Hannah’s work together. Peter, Hannah’s personal coach was by her side every training session and we both rode every stride with her.
Other exciting moments was our first look at the Main arena, Hannah’s first ride on the main arena, Hannah’s dad arriving in Greenwich, my first hour out of the village – I had Fish n Chips at the local pub that had adopted the Aussie Para Equestrian team. Seeing more familiar faces with the Armstrong clan and the Watts family cheering us all on in the stands and having some time with them when we weren’t busy will always be cherished memories.
Trot up day was so nerve racking for me – it was my turn to be judged – there is a reason I don’t compete! Although we were there, although the training and preparation had been done it all came down to the horse being accepted by the Ground Jury. All the grooms were leading our horses out together and one by one the Australian horses were called to Trot up. With Hannah, Peter, Tori (Kiwi’s owner) all watching on I ran Kiwi up and back and finally I heard the words “Waikiwi Accepted”. What a relief that was, I could breathe again.
It was then into competition mode, with an air of anticipation and all the riders having their own routines, the job of us as grooms and support crew was to facilitate the best possible outcome for the riders. There was a sense of relief for the riders when their first rides were complete, there were the high’s of Jo winning the Gold medal and the lows of Grace’s withdrawal and the excitement and sense of accomplishment for everyone when our jobs were done. For Hannah & her support crew we knew the blood, sweat and tears were all worth it and she was so proud to be part of the London 2012 Paralympic Team and so happy that she has achieved her dream of being a Paralympian and representing her country. Everything now is a bonus!
GOLDMAN SACHS COMMUNITY TEAMWORKS
By Sarah Martin, Executive Assistant, Goldman Sachs
As part of Goldman Sachs' annual, global Community TeamWorks initiative, nine of my Sydney colleagues joined me for a really enjoyable day out of the office, at Riding for the Disabled Tall Timbers Centre in Box Hill.
Our remit was to assist in tidying up the property in preparation for the new term and we couldn't have wished for more perfect weather for our outdoor activities: 20 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.
We divided into three groups, each of which was assigned a task by our project manager, RDA's Paul Akers, such as planting Clivias and populating flower beds, painting various structures and clearing an overgrown car park area. After a hearty lunch of gourmet, locally produced pies, we switched around and took on new jobs for the afternoon, which included clearing the sensory garden of rubber plant leaves, cleaning up the approach to the arena and relocating plants to allow the removal of a demountable building.
While I couldn't help wishing that we could stay for a fortnight and undertake every project on Paul's inevitably long list, it was satisfying to see the improvements we had made in a day and know that we had contributed something to a very worthy organisation.
Community TeamWorks is Goldman Sachs' corporate volunteering programme that was founded sixteen years ago and has run from May through July every year since, assisting a wide range of different charities. Every employee is encouraged to participate, spending a day out of the office and getting to know colleagues from different departments/divisions while giving something back to the community.
I have participated in many CTW projects, all of which have been fun, but my day at RDA was by far the best. Spending a Monday gardening in a beautiful rural setting, with horses grazing in the paddocks beyond certainly beats being at my desk in Governor Phillip Tower!
REFLECTIONS ON VOLUNTEERING
In 2011 I received two awards from Tall Timbers. One was expected, the other was not. The 10 years’ service award I knew was coming – Tall Timbers’ Volunteer of the Year blew me away! To the Committee and all the volunteers who supported that nomination, heartfelt thanks – it is an honour that many deserve and which I gratefully accepted.
I started volunteering at TT in 2001. I had just been retrenched and I decided I would take the opportunity to give something back to the community while I had the time. I also had selfish reasons for doing so – I wanted to re-connect with the horse community and I wanted to have some sense of purpose and value while I was job hunting. So I checked out Go Volunteer and found RDA (I had some exposure to RDA when I went to work in the UK for a few years and was living and riding in very horsey country). The ad I saw was placed by Kerry who had just decided to try an online channel to attract volunteers and the rest is history as they say.
I’m not sure I’m a volunteer by nature, but my mother donated an immense amount of time to various charities and I occasionally helped her - there were so many people who needed assistance back in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Maybe some of that rubbed off on me after all.
I started volunteering on Thursdays and I just instantly liked the people I met: Kerry, Wendy, Pip, Kim, Dick and Liz - with occasional visits by the madcap Joy! Butch was around then too – all were so welcoming. The horses were captivating – working with them in this way offers such a different reward to riding yourself. The riders opened my eyes to issues I had previously given little thought to. I went to Nepean to help at Mounted Games and met Denise, Joan and Karen and people from other centres and realised that we all worked well as a team with common objectives, despite our often vastly different backgrounds. I was asked to become a coach after a few months and when I found work I continued to train and soon took on the Saturday programme management when the staff coach running that resigned. Jan Moran was a terrific support in that time and subsequently. Soon I was on the committee too and I was awarded the RDA NSW Volunteer Encouragement Award for the Metropolitan Region in 2004. At one point it all got to be a bit much with working full time, every Saturday at RDA plus many other days and the nights driving out from Cammeray for coach and committee meetings so I stepped back for a while, but couldn’t stay away too long!
I have been at most regional Mounted Games qualifiers and Royals- and State and National Dressage Championships in those 10 years as coach, horse leader, pencilller and latterly, as “the Voice of RDA.” I was a DJ back in Cape Town in my university days and learned to work a mike at all sorts of events. I have been hired out to Hawkesbury Equine Exhibition in exchange for a free stand for RDA and commentated at numerous State Competitions at SIEC and the Royal. I am on the gate at Windsor Polo, making sandwiches and serving teas at Model Railways, preparing and serving lunch and cleaning up at Castle Hill Show. Since I gave up eating meat I no longer do BBQs! I have presented at workshops and trained volunteers. I am your all round RDA Volunteer and I don’t believe I am that unusual.
What keeps me here? Well, there are a whole heap of reasons: the wonderful equine characters I’ve come to love and lament over the years, the riders – some of whom have gone on to ride in open competition on their own horses, some of whom have had smaller, but no less significant, progress in their worlds and some of whom just enjoyed the ride and whose smiles and delight brought such profound pleasure to their families and me; my fellow coaches – many of whom have become real friends, the volunteers, fellow committee members and of course the tireless Kerry – have all become such an important part of my life – my co-travellers on a journey, sharing so many moments of laughter, learning and hope – and just occasionally a teensy bit of stress ! I simply cannot imagine my life without RDA in it now – though, particularly in the first quarter of the year when there are so many events and I don’t seem to have a spare moment, I sometimes fantasise about that!
RDA has given me the opportunity to learn new skills, to go to places I may never have visited otherwise, to get to know a part of Sydney that I didn’t even know existed from my city desk in my first few years in Australia. It has allowed me to broaden my perspective and view life through a different lens. It has spurred me on to a new path studying equine facilitated mental health and learning. It has provided a needed counterbalance to my corporate life – it keeps things real and means I never get too caught up in the trivial trials and tribulations of my life, when I so regularly see people whose circumstances are so much more trying, and who display such courage daily.
RDA has given me a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose and meaning beyond my day job, has made me more accountable in so many ways – and brings me into contact with an ever-changing bunch of new, young volunteers, some of whom give me great hope for future generations. It allows me to believe that teamwork really can exist, and that the sum is greater than the parts, that one person can and does make a difference and that flexibility and resilience really do reap rewards.
RDA also brought my best (horse) friend (Indigo) into my life – why wouldn’t I stay involved?
By Karen O’Neill, Hon President
Congratulations to John and Sandra on receiving the Volunteer Appreciation Award for 2011. John and Sandra come as a team. They have been at this Centre since September 2010, attending every Thursday to help as horse leaders and side walkers for our riders, having a great rapport with their fellow volunteers, coaches and riders. They seem to think about RDA 24/7 and their dedication to RDA in such a short time is outstanding.
As well as assisting with the classes they have been involved in many other ways including initiating and running of many fund raisers including Bunnings BBQs, bingo nights, running raffles on rodeo nights or at shopping centres, canteens both new and helping at established functions. They always give out information and promote RDA whenever they are out in the public eye. Neither of them are shy and are very good at speaking to new people to spread information about RDA. Both of them have spent many weeks fixing the electric fencing and have also been involved in numerous working bees including building of the horse shelter sheds.
As well as attending weekly, John & Sandra have joined our committee since March 2010 and they have been very active in establishing new contacts and tradespeople to help with funding and services for us. They are very much involved in the running of this centre. Thankfully they are both retired because else we would be wondering when they have time to sleep!
John and Sandra’s ability to promote and inform the general public about RDA and to encourage more people to become involved both on a day to day basis or as a sponsor has greatly increased awareness of RDA in our region. Benefits through extra funding have flowed onto our riders, volunteers and centre.
“We have always loved and owned horses and when our sons finished riding a few years ago we wanted a good home for our pony you all know as Ozzy.
In August 2010, as a retired couple, with time on our hands, we were looking for something we could both do. We brought some rugs to Tall Timbers and after speaking with Nicole we came home with Savannah
(retired) and a commitment to help out on Thursdays. It was the perfect fit. RDA became addictive. Dedicated staff, fantastic new friends in our vollies, horses and kids that just melted our hearts. It was everything we had been looking for. As the need arose, we gave more time and had great fun at Canteens and BBQ's which turned out to be social events.
New friends made us feel like extended family so we looked forward to any opportunity to help out. If anyone is looking for an organisation that gives back more than it takes, RDA TT is the place to be. Male, Female, Young or Old will find fulfilment from giving a few hours a week. Give it a try and become addicted.”
John and Sandra.
I started at RDA Tall Timbers in year 10, which was 2009. I attended a week of work experience for my School Certificate, with a friend who was riding at the Centre at the time.
I had always loved horses, but had never been around them. The week flew and was a great experience; never did I think that one person could learn so much in 5 days. Soon after I started my own riding lessons and my love for horses started to show so I never looked back. Since that week I have been attending Tall Timbers nearly every Saturday working with the horses and helping out in lessons. After realising that this was something I wanted to continue, I decided to undertake the Assistant Coach training last year and shortly, after that is completed I hope to undertake my Coach training and become a Coach for RDA Tall Timbers. Becoming a volunteer is definitely something I would encourage everyone to have a go at, even if you don’t know much about horses, it’s a great opportunity to learn lots of new things and helping out in lessons and working with the riders is great fun. Nothing compares to seeing the kids having fun and smiling from cheek to cheek as well seeing them improve their riding skills which is something extremely rewarding.
I would like to thank Nicole for all her patience with my coach training as well as Judy and Kaye, the Saturday coaches, for helping me to broaden my knowledge of horse management and coaching as well as everyone else who has made my time at RDA so enjoyable. I hope there are many more great memories to come! Lastly I would like to give a BIG thankyou RDA Tall Timbers for awarding me with the Young Volunteer of the Year Award for 2011, I hope it inspires others to volunteer and become a part of the Tall Timbers Centre.
By Tony Checchia, Commonwealth Bank
Executive Manager, Subsidiary and Balance Sheet Reporting
On February 10th, my team spent a few hours helping out at the Tall Timbers property in Box Hill. The team of eighteen spent the time applying linseed oil to the walls of the riding arena and undertaking some gardening work on the property. Afterwards we prepared a BBQ and had lunch with the team at Tall Timbers as well as other volunteers.
It was especially rewarding to see a group of children undertaking an orienteering session at Tall Timbers, the smiles on the faces highlighted the impact that a facility like Tall Timbers has on the children’s lives. My whole team had a great time assisting and we aim to continue to our involvement with Tall Timbers.
Project Local is a new community initiative brought to you by your NewsLocal newspaper.
Thank you to everyone who voted for our project “Solid Footing for All” in the Rouse Hill Times Project Local competition.
We won $2500 to construct some paths to improve access around the property and to our Sensory Garden.
RDA Tall Timbers Centre has been lucky enough to be granted the support of the St George Foundation; this will help the centre with our plans for expansion.
St George Foundation helps build a secure future for disadvantaged children. – “We do this by funding programs run by the smaller charities who are truly close to the families they help but who don’t attract funding from government and who aren’t big enough to generate significant fundraising income. Since 1990, we have partnered with over 700 community organisations across Australia and invested more than $17.5 million to improve the lives of Aussie kids who are physically, socially or economically disadvantaged. In 2011, this commitment to the little guys saw us funding projects in 123 different communities and delivering programs worth over $1,8 million to the kids who need them most.” http://www.stgeorge.com.au/about-stgeorge/sustainability-and-community/stgeorge-foundation
LIFE MEMBERSHIP JOHN AND CARMEL NORRIS
Congratulations John and Carmel on receiving Life Memberships. Both John and Carmel have actively been involved with RDA Tall Timbers for well over 10 years. John began as a Saturday volunteer more than 10 years ago. Although John is a “quiet sort of guy” he is always willing to get involved in all aspects of RDA Tall Timbers Centre. After retiring he joined the volunteers each Thursday helping in the riding classes. As well as the classes, the Thursday “gang” often get together to assist the Centre with working bees at which John has been a keen participant.
When the call went out for a new Centre Committee John & Carmel enthusiastically volunteered. This involves monthly meetings to help with the running of the Centre and at the time to assist with the new development. John & Carmel have now been very involved in fundraising for our Centre for over 5 years. Both of them took over the organisation of the Model Railways canteen fundraiser which involves co-ordinating Lions Club of Kuringai and RDA volunteers, shopping for supplies, running the canteen and selling raffle tickets. This is one of our largest fundraisers every year.
If that was not big enough, Carmel and John also took on the task of co-ordinators for the Castle Hill Show which is a large 3 day function with organisation for dinners and lunches for officials, stewards and stall holders and our volunteers to help with this task. Again much planning and behind the scenes activities are required which both Carmel and John do cheerfully.
For many years John’s Lions Club have supported the Saturday rider’s Christmas party with gifts for the riders. John has attended these parties on behalf of the club and assisted with the gifts and trophy. They both have a keen interest in our riders and how to better our centre for the smooth running of our programs. Carmel is a legend when it comes to baking cakes and slices for functions which she does even though she is still working full time.
Also they have been involved with the start up of Bunning BBQs again after the Centre had a short break from this event. They have attended nearly every BBQ at Dural and have the routine set up for new volunteers to fit in easily. Thank you for the significant contribution you make to Tall Timbers, above and beyond the call of duty.
Pip Lovely was announced as a quarterly winner of Castle Hill RSL’s community initiative Give Back which recognises people who contribute to the community. It gives Castle Hill RSL the opportunity to give back to the community members who give so much to others.
RDA Tall Timbers nominated Pip as she contributes so much, not only for our Centre, but in so many other facets of the community.
We can always count on Pip to help out wherever necessary and always with so much energy and enthusiasm. Thank you Pip – a very deserving winner.
Pip is pictured receiving a certificate from Castle Hill RSL Chairman Warren Glenny
UWS PARTNERSHIP – CLASSROOMS WITHOUT BORDERS
We were very pleased to receive a Certificate of Appreciation from UWS for our partnership in their Classrooms without Borders Program.
Postgraduate students from the University of Western Sydney are making a big difference in their communities, by assisting local organisations that care for children with special needs. The cohort of Master of Education (Primary) students are all participating in the university’s innovative Classrooms without Borders (CWB) program. Classrooms without Borders is supported by the School of Education and UWS Engagement. RDA Tall Timbers hosted 4 students from UWS during the year.
Picture: Pip, Kerry and Karen at the Presentation.
HILLS KIDS CUPCAKE BAKEOFF
RDA Tall Timbers Centre was delighted to be nominated as a beneficiary of the proceeds from the Hills Kids Cupcake Bakeoff which was hosted by Glenorie Bakery. Over two Sundays Tall Timbers volunteers assisted with a variety of aspects of the event. It was great fun and also a good opportunity to create awareness of our Centre. There were some fantastic cupcakes made by talented kids – the finalist’s creations being judged by Adriano Zumbo (Masterchef) and Andrew Morello (The Apprentice). After the awards an Auction was held with Andrew Morello as the auctioneer. Items on offer included, dinner at the Rock Pool Sydney, Biviano Restaurant at Windsor, a signed Wallabies Jumper, Golf day with the Mayor of Hornsby and bread baking class for 4 at Brassiere Bread among other items. Thank you to everyone who supported this event and a special thank you to Rob Pirina, Managing Director of Glenorie Bakery.
NRMA INSURANCE WORKING BEE
By Mariana Cidade, Consumer Public Relations Manager, DIGITAL & DIRECT MARKETING NRMA INSURANCE
The NRMA Insurance Marketing team returned to Tall Timbers Riding for the Disabled centre to once again lend a hand. This time the team came on two different days to tackle anything from gardening to painting the fences with sump oil.
The first group went in August and worked hard painting and gardening in the sun. Some of the team rode on mowers while others yielded the whipper snippers. Another team planted a sensory garden in the shape of a smiley face for the kids to appreciate when they’re not with the horses. Group two visited in October and spent some quality time painting the first building people see when they come to the centre – the large Manager’s cottage and horse ‘sick bay’ stables. The fences got a good coat of sump oil and the garden got some more TLC.
Both groups enjoyed a sausage sizzle for lunch and some cheese and dips for morning and afternoon tea. The best part was the opportunity to watch some of the classes with the kids and see how much they benefit from horse riding and how happy they look. It was great to hear from RDA’s staff how horse riding helps kids with a wide range of disabilities from developing their core muscles to increasing their confidence.
Everyone had a great time; it was very rewarding to spend the day out working in the sun and bonding with team mates over a good cause.
By Pip Lovely, Hon Vice President
This year we made the decision to hold our Trivia Night during the warmer months so chose October 29th. We hoped that more people would brave the warmer conditions but unfortunately that did not prove to be so. Luckily 100 keen trivia buffs were there to have a fun night with lots of trivia and games. I don't think the questions were that hard as most tables got quite good scores each round and made up points by participating in the extra paper activities such as "remember these Quotes from movies" and "name the country by their flag". Each of these activities had 15 to choose from...the flags had one blank space (for ease of scoring) so one inventive table decided to try for an extra point by answering that the country was Antarctica in a blizzard!!
My Thanks go to Kerry, Nicole, Kirsty (for being markers), Karen, Judy and Fran for all the help setting up and supervising the half time games, Elsa for helping put chairs out and being an enthusiastic participant, Dennis for helping set up and organising parking and to all the people who helped at the end of the night to stack and collapse the tables. Thanks also to Carmel for baking the delicious cakes for supper.
We made just over $2000 and had a ball doing it.
Thank you to all the
Sponsors and Supporters: Harrison Carpentry, Featherdale
By Kerry Souter, Administrator.
On Tuesday 10th May the Rotary Club of Glenhaven held its annual award night at Springfield House to recognise people in our community. Paul Akers was presented with the Quiet Achiever Award. He well and truly fits the criteria for this award which recognises those who see a need and fulfill it, without seeking personal glory or financial reward. Their satisfaction is gained in a job well done and receiving a smile or a thank you. Karen O’Neill, Hon President and I went along with Paul and his wife Virginia to the Award Night. Karen was happy to have the opportunity tell the Club Members and visitors about all that Paul has done for our Centre.
Paul Akers has been with RDA Tall Timbers Centre at Box Hill since May 2009 and has had a huge impact on the appearance and smooth running of the Centre. Before Paul arrived we had large areas of clay and mud after our building development had finished. Also there were huge banks of shale and rocks around our outdoor area. With his interest in gardening, Paul has transformed the Tall Timbers’ property with lovely mulched native gardens which makes a wonderful first impression for new visitors. It also makes Tall Timbers a pleasant place of work and recreation for everyone. Paul has literally moved mountains of mulch, planted hundreds of plants, installed watering systems and is constantly banishing weeds. We are sure he has the Council mulch people on speed dial. He has also initiated and designed a sensory garden, and although it is not finished yet – we have had children and adults alike enjoying this colourful area, trying to find the steps that chirp or twitter when you step on them. As a handy man, Paul is also happy to help out with all those odd jobs and small repairs which constantly crop up. As well as all this Paul also helps out each Friday with the riding classes, leading horses for the riders and assisting where necessary. He has a great rapport with the riders and other helpers. He encourages and challenges the riders with kind words and funny jokes - all to help them enjoy and gain benefits from their riding experience. He also helps out when he can with our fundraising.
Congratulations Paul on winning this Quiet Achiever award. It is well deserved.
Give Back is a program of the Castle Hill RSL Club which is designed to foster a vibrant and sustainable Hills Community. It recognises people that make a difference, give back and contribute to the Hills community.
Tall Timbers Centre nominated Lynn White for this Award. Lynn lives in the Hills District and has been a volunteer since March 2006. She has become a valuable part of our Centre and assists in the riding program and horses each Monday. Lynn has also taken on the responsibility of organising the Devonshire Tea fundraising at Castle Hill Show each year, personally making all the scones. She has also been very involved in Book Fairs, Windsor Polo, Joan’s Open Garden and the Sydney Royal Show and has represented us at community events and attended as a speaker.
Thank you Lynn – a well deserved recognition!
OUR FIRST BINGO NIGHT
By Sandra & John Wright, Committee
We would like to say a big thank you to all of the people who supported our first Bingo Night on the 6th May, which raised over $1200. About 65 people attended, filling the volunteers’ room and creating quite a Buzz.
We had lots of winners, with 37 prizes going home with those lucky people and a further 6 as door prizes. Prizes ranged from wine, chocolates and tee-shirts to full hair treatments, pedicures and even a body piercing! There was a great selection, for men, women and the kids, thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, many of whom are located in Windsor Township. Nibbles on the night were cheese, dips, cakes and drinks courtesy of Castlebrook Memorial Park and also a variety of chips donated by Smiths Snackfood Company. A big thank you to Kerry, Karen and Nicole for setting up and helping with parking and entry on the night.
I am happy to say several people commented at the end of the evening at what a fun time it had been and asked when the next one will be, which has given us a lot of encouragement. Keep your eyes peeled for the dates of the next Bingo Night and book early!
We are most grateful to all of the following companies and individuals for their donations. Not all donations were used at this event but please be assured they will be used in other fundraising activities.
Soul Pattinson Rouse Hill, LM Style Hairdressing, All Clear Pools, Rouse Hill Irrigation, Wilkinsons Real Estate, The Shop of Lollies, Jennas Country Spa, Fitzgerald Motors, Diamond and Gold Shop, A Farmers Daughter Vintage Shop, Country Essence, Simons Coffee Lounge, Cafe Red, Smik Surf Shop, Windsor Jewellery Shop, Riverview Florist, St George Bank Windsor, NAB Windsor, Arabian Horse Society, Bunnings McGraths Hill, Cassies Room for Beauty, Castlebrook Memorial Park, Chattering Scissors, C & N Trading, Cutcliffe Real Estate, Dee Luca Hair, Everything Educational, Gorgeous Beauty Spa, Hair Stylz and Wigs, Ivy Western Wear, Louise Markus MP, Lynwood Country Club, New Street Cafe, Newmarket Saddlery, PRD Nationwide Rouse Hill, Smokin Coyote Clothing Co. Hargreaves Nursery.
Our Centre is always keen to increase awareness for Riding for the Disabled so when the producers of The Kerri-Anne Show contacted us we jumped at the chance for some exposure.
It was an exciting day at RDA Tall Timbers when Jamie, Stephanie, Ben and Steve came to film an episode at Box Hill The volunteers and staff were all looking splendid in their jade RDA TT polo shirts and best jeans and some excited riders (and teachers) arrived to make their Television debut. .
There were close-ups, interviews and action shots taken in the indoor arena, grass arena and around the dam with Jamie Malcolm joining in the fun.
Click here to see the segment.
NRMA MARKETING DEPARTMENT WORKING BEE
By Mariana Cidade, NRMA
On December 10th the Marketing department of NRMA Insurance had an Away Day to give back to the community and support a very worthy cause. W e visited the Riding for the Disabled “Tall Timbers” Centre.
We were all really excited to hear from the RDA team, who explained to us how the organisation supports disabled children of all ages. When we were told we’d be doing a ‘backyard blitz- style’ makeover of the centre we were all pumped. It was a great chance to give back to the community and to a particularly wonderful organisation.
Everyone was divided into three teams to tackle different parts of the complex – gardeners, builders and painters. Those of us with a green thumb made up the gardening squad, tasked with mowing the lawns and tidying up the grounds. The handymen (and women) among us were tasked with putting up shelves in a store room. The painters in the group, keen to stay out of the sun, were given Linseed Oil and Turpentine for the indoor arena while those keen on the outdoors were given Sump Oil for all outside fences and wood.
What came next was a flurry of activity as we all got busy with our tasks. The centre has fantastic facilities and it was good to get stuck in do our bit. The ride-on mower and whipper-snipper got a workout while the wooden beams for the fences, horse yards, paddocks and arena walls were all given a fresh coat of oil, protecting them from the weather over the coming months.
It was a fantastic day for all of us. We all felt really privileged to be there and lend a hand to such a good cause through our small contribution. We had a lot of fun along the way, and most importantly we were happy to be able to help the RDA team. We are really supportive of the work the Tall Timbers Centre does, and hope to come back again with some more elbow grease. Though our contribution is really small, we hope it goes a long way to help the Centre and the team that do such valuable work every day.
A huge thanks to the team at the Riding for the Disabled “Tall Timbers” Centre for giving us such a great opportunity to help out and for all they do.
By Karen O’Neill, Hon President
Pip is a lady with many talents and we are
grateful that she has brought her enthusiasm and dedication to RDATT. She started with RDATT in the early 1980s
helping with the horses, riders and classes.
Pip was involved with Sue -Ellen Lovett’s "A Ride for
Mobility" in 1988 raising funds and awareness for the Blind Society and
RDA. This fundraiser started in
As well as being regularly involved with classes, Pip has helped many new volunteers by being their “buddy” and passing on her experience and knowledge.
She also is very active with promoting our Centre by speaking at service clubs, functions and promotional stands and encourages other organisations to support us by assisting the Centre financially and in other ways such as attending working bees. Pip is always involved somewhere with fundraising including Trivia Night organiser, obtaining prizes, working bees, garage sales, lamington drives, chocolate drives, raffles, book fair, workshops, catering and Bunnings BBQs. Also Pip has been involved with property maintenance and as a sign writer, has produced signs for the property and events. Her husband Dennis, family members and friends have also been encouraged to help RDA Tall Timbers in many ways and we appreciate their help as well. She is also a valued member of RDA Tall Timbers Committee as Hon. Vice President and Treasurer.
For Pip variety is the spice of life - as well as giving so much of her time to RDA Tall Timbers she is also involved with other organisations including Girl Guides Australia and the Rotary Club.
Thank you Pip for all that you do for RDA Tall Timbers and the people involved. Your Life Membership award is well deserved.
RDA TALL TIMBERS ANNOUNCED WINNER IN THE COMMUNITY SERVICE/NON PROFIT SECTION
About the Awards:
The Business Achiever Awards program is more than just a popularity contest. It is about delving deep inside a business and finding out what their strengths and weaknesses are, meeting them face to face and examining their work ethic, customer service and knowledge plus so much more. This in depth process is what sets our awards apart from the rest. Working with the Department of Industry and Investment and Access Management Solutions, the Business Achiever Awards have put together an in-depth judging process with the aim of getting businesses to think about their impact on their workers, the environment and its customers. Businesses are then mystery shopped during work hours by Ganador Management Solutions to help them translate shopper insights into sell-through strategies for increased productivity. Ganador Management Solutions are completely independent of the awards program. As a business, the Business Achiever Awards program is your opportunity to show the community who you are and why you’re the best.
The Finance, Administration and Back Office (FABO) Awards
recognise the contributions of people who work in the
less-visible, back office positions in
The winners of the 2010 inaugural FABO Awards
were announced at a Gala Dinner at Watersedge
Restaurant by the Rocks at
I didn’t win but we had a fabulous evening at the Awards. There are so many worthy
organisations that do great things in our community and theses awards are a
wonderful way to recognise the people behind the scenes in the non profit
It was just really nice to be nominated and then to be a finalist was very exciting. I am very fortunate to be part of a wonderful team of volunteers and co-workers who do something so beneficial for people with disabilities. It’s reward enough.”
TEN YEARS OF TALL TIMBERS AT BOX HILL/SUPPORTERS DAY
Saturday the 30th October marked the tenth anniversary of Riding for the Disabled moving to its current address at Box Hill. I had the great pleasure of attending the community morning tea with my wife Wendy, as we toured the grounds and watched this operation first hand, marking this memorable occasion.
The 'Tall Timbers' facility as it affectionately known is a vastly different place to that of ten years ago. The centre now boasts wonderful new buildings, a kitchen, storage rooms and concrete paths for safe access, plus a host of other attractions that add to this remarkable facility. Another new addition is the outside arena where participants benefit from a range of activities including horse and buggy displays. The special interaction between a horse and rider can also be achieved with participants sitting in the buggy while the horse pulls them around an obstacle course. The therapeutic benefits of this personal connection between humans and horses has long been recognised and dates back to Roman times when the simple task of riding horses for pleasure was used by convalescing soldiers. The broad smiles across the faces of children with disabilities as they learn to ride are truly remarkable to witness. However the facility could not operate without the thousands of hours spent by enthusiastic volunteers who dedicate their time on behalf of those who derive great benefit through their partnership with our four legged friends.
To everyone at Tall Timbers RDA, thank you for the special care, dedication and commitment you provide on behalf of people who continue to prove its ability, rather than disability that really matters.
This beautiful handmade quilt was lovingly sewn by one of our Volunteers. It has a horsey theme and also has some charming hand embroidered Australian and horse theme motifs. Size 148cm wide x 157cm high. Red border, reverse gold coloured patterned fabric. It would make an excellent gift as it is unique and a keepsake for generations to come.
WINNING BID WAS $400 BY HOLLY BENNETT
Thank you for supporting this fundraiser.
Volunteering: Now, more than ever
National Volunteer Week (NVW) began in 1989 and was the first collaborative attempt to promote volunteering nationally.
Volunteering Australia (VA) is the national peak body for volunteering and as such is responsible for setting the date and theme for NVW and providing a range of resources and promotional items to members, usually in partnership with NVW sponsors. VA drives the overall strategy assisted by the current NVW partners, NAB and the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services & Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA).
Historically, NVW has focussed on recruitment and provided a national focus for volunteer based organisations wanting to recruit volunteers. However, extensive research after NVW 2007 saw the focus change to be one of celebrating volunteering and thanking volunteers, with recruitment a natural by-product.
Organisations that have volunteers, including organisations with a corporate volunteering program, are encouraged to embrace NVW and celebrate the achievements of their volunteers.
As volunteering continues to grow we need to be more aware of the need to recognise what volunteers contribute to our world. There are many charities that would struggle to survive without the contribution of their volunteers.
During the week we presented our Volunteers with lapel pins which were kindly distributed by Volunteering Australia.
On Sunday 21st March, at
an award Ceremony to celebrate the commencement of NSW Seniors Week,
Her award was presented to her by Ita Buttrose and Graham Ross who are Seniors Week Ambassadors. Family and friends attended the ceremony which was held at the Sydney Recital Hall.
Congratulations Joan and thank you from everyone at RDA Tall Timbers.
Listen to an interview by Gordon Allen of 2CCR FM 90.5