For volunteer Rod Allwood, the decision to donate his time to an organisation was one he took very seriously. “When I reached retirement age, I wanted to do some sort of volunteer work, but the main criteria was that the organisation would not make money off my efforts. A friend suggested RDA which seemed a great idea as I rode horses as a kid and coached girl's gymnastics so was used to dealing with kids.” And for the past two years, this decision has been a beautiful partnership for Rod and the horses, staff, and riders of WRDA.
Member of the team of Friday volunteers, Rod performs a variety of tasks from warming up horses and cleaning around the barn to preparing riders and their mounts for the Ride Programme. “Our group works well together with everyone aware of what is required to ensure that the day’s schedule happens without incident. Each member is allocated their tasks to do before the first ride right through to the final clean up after the horses are fed and returned to their paddocks at the end of the day’s activities.” Rod has high praise for Friday coach, Tina, whom he credits for showing him the ropes. “She was one of us once, doing the hard graft, but now calls the shots.”
At the December prize giving, Rod was one of two volunteers who received recognition for “Most Improved Volunteer for 2015. “Rod came to WRDA with little knowledge of horses and disabilities. He takes pride in what he does,” says WRDA President Donna Kennedy. “He is also the best water trough cleaner we have!” Rod says getting the award was a total surprise. “I was not even aware that there was such a category at the prize-giving. I was there to see kids getting certificates and share their pleasure, never for one second thinking that my name would be read out.”
But for Rod the work at WRDA goes far beyond winning an award. “No other activity that I have done has given me such satisfaction. The satisfaction gained from being part of the team that helps riders, initially overcome a lack of confidence around horses through to really looking forward to riding, hugging the horse and not wanting the ride to finish is priceless.
He credits the high level of training and investment in volunteers for the success of the overall programme. “All aspects of the role of volunteering at WRDA are covered by courses run by qualified tutors and are compulsory to attend. I would recommend volunteering at WRDA for anyone who can spare a few hours.”
Rod jokes he has no spare time with work (he is a quantity surveyor with Wellington Windows and Doors four days a week), WRDA, Bridge twice a week, assisting with two grand children’s activities (they live next door), collecting, cutting and splitting firewood for three adjacent houses, going for a walk up Mt Kau Kau four times a week, having an occasional swim and dining out whenever possible. “This gives me a perfect combination of lifestyle.”
Page added 26/6/16