Buxton disabled riding school volunteers honoured for long service

Volunteers at a Buxton equestrian school for disabled people have been honoured with national awards acknowledging more than 135 combined years of service to the life-changing organisation.

By Ed Dingwall
Monday, 17th January 2022, 10:23 am
Updated Monday, 17th January 2022, 10:54 am

Six members of Helen Atkin Group Buxton Riding for the Disabled (RDA) have received long service awards from the national RDA umbrella body for their contributions to the health, happiness and quality of life of disabled riders of all ages and abilities from across the High Peak.

Certificates were presented in the covered arena at Buxton Riding School, on London Road, by Leicestershire RDA county chairman Jane Corrall, who said: “It’s a real pleasure to meet and receive a genuinely warm welcome from such fantastic volunteers, and to present them with these well-deserved long service certificates. Many congratulations and sincere thanks to them all.”

The Buxton group was formed 35 years ago, and founder members Pat Atkin and Julie Andrew – still trustees to this day – were presented with pearl awards for more than 30 years of service.

Sign up to our daily Buxton Advertiser Today newsletter

From left, Andrea Newstead, Julie Andrew, Jane Corrall, Janine Frost, Janette Sykes, Pat Atkin, and Val Mansell.

Pat helped to establish the group in 1987 with her late husband John using funeral donations in memory of their daughter Helen, who died at the age of 19. Though Helen had never ridden, she loved horses and, at the time, the nearest RDA school was just outside Matlock. Pat has been the group’s treasurer ever since.

Julie served as the group’s secretary for many years, and her passion for it has been passed down to daughter Louise, who owns the Buxton Riding School. Together with husband Dave, Louise was largely responsible for delivering a new £168,000 covered arena which opened in 2021.

There was also a pearl award for Janette Sykes, who became an RDA volunteer in north east Derbyshire 35 years ago, and joined the Helen Atkin Group when she moved to Buxton in 1989.

Val Mansell received an award for 20 years’ service, Andrea Newstead one for 15 years, and Janine Frost, was honoured for ten years’ service, formerly as the group’s secretary and now as its chairman.

Janine said: “We are all thrilled to receive these awards – they are a fitting tribute to the dedication and sustained support of our volunteers, many of whom have been with us for a long time. We work as a close-knit, inclusive team and couldn’t operate without their enthusiasm and expertise.”

The Helen Atkin Group is open to new volunteers, particularly for back office roles which help its operations to run smoothly.

Janine added: “We are always happy to hear from new volunteers with different skill sets to join us. Our work is not just about dealing directly with riders and horses – we also need people with skills in areas such as fundraising, practical tasks and administration.

“In return, we can offer hands-on training and the opportunity to be part of a friendly and welcoming group of people, all helping our riders to achieve their full potential.”

Anyone interested in finding out more can contact Janine via 07960 961605 or at [email protected]

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together.” – Louise Cooper, editor.