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An interview with our Chair, Sheri

How did you first hear about the charity?

Colin Sandford, who was then the Chairman, approached me at Badger’s farm and asked if I might like to volunteer. I’d never heard of the charity but thought it sounded good and I love horses so decided to give it a go.

How long have you been volunteering and what roles have you done?

I’ve been volunteering since 2009 and started volunteering on Tuesdays, then became the group leader, then the coach & group leader and now I coach on Tuesdays, assistant coach on Wednesdays and I am the charity’s Chair.

Who is your favourite pony and why?

I love them all as they all have their own personalities and always make me smile. If I had to pick a favourite, it would be DC. He is my baby. He is still young and learning but is such a good boy. He needs patience and love and you are rewarded with a lovely trot and a snuggle.

What has kept you continuing to volunteer with the charity?

I can’t really explain it other than to say it gives me such pleasure and I always leave with a smile on my face. The riders are amazing and watching their faces when they trot for the first time or master rising trot or a perfect halt is just the best. And it doesn’t matter what their age, the riders all break into a huge smile of amazement and joy! And all the volunteers are equally fantastic. I think they all feel the same as me. I never know who has more fun during games or dressage days, the volunteers or the riders! Everyone is laughing and cheering and it is just the best.

What would be the impact if RDA wasn't available to the riders in your groups?

It would be terrible. For many of our riders, it's the only exercise they have and the only social fun outside a classroom. It really helps them in so many ways, physically building core strength and balance, but just as important is their social skills and confidence. Most of them come to us and rarely speak and are so withdrawn into themselves. After a month or more you hardly recognise them. Laughing, talking, wanting to trot. It is so rewarding to see. It would be terrible to take it away from them.

What do you feel are the biggest benefits to the children and young people in your groups with regard to riding?

It varies child to child. For our youngest riders, 4-6, it is building strength and coordination as well as helping them to focus and interact with others. With our older children and young adults, to me, it's about self confidence in addition to the physical strength. Being 12-16 is tough enough, add a disability and it's really challenging. Helping them feel a sense of accomplishment and pride while having fun as well is a huge confidence builder.

What have been the highlights for you with regard to your time with the RDA?

That’s a hard one. I’ve gotten so much from RDA. I do love our Dressage Days when the riders can show their families and friends how well they ride. It's wonderful to see.

In three words please sum up how you feel about our RDA.

Rewarding, Fun, Important

What would you say to anyone thinking about volunteering for the charity?

Do it! You will never regret it. We have volunteers who have been with Horsley & Bookham RDA for 40+ years!! It must be good!!

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