2024 RDA Coaching Award Winners Announced

RDA are overjoyed to announce the winners of the 2024 RDA Coaching Awards. These awards represent individuals across the RDA Coaching community who have made an outstanding contribution for participants and volunteers alike.

Coach of the Year

Sally Lefroy – Wilton Group 

Sally has been a volunteer and coach for the Wilton Group for over 30 years, where she has shared her knowledge, expertise and compassion for countless riders over the years. Today, she leads a team of over 40 volunteers, inspiring them with her energy and enthusiasm. 

Sally has an affinity for helping others, developing an instant connection with all the children and adults that come to ride, adapting to each of their needs with her clear yet gentle guidance. She spots the potential in every rider and will work tirelessly to ensure they reach their goals, encouraging any riders who are keen to progress to competitions. Sally will drive the horsebox to RDA competitions and takes great pride in seeing her pupils reach their goals and receive their well-deserved rosettes. Boosting rider confidence is so important to Sally. 

Every one of Sally’s days at RDA is devoted to giving every rider and volunteer a day to remember, ensuring there is a smile on their face when they leave. She encourages volunteers in assisting riders to get the most enjoyment from their rides and passes her knowledge of understanding the horse, horse care and application of specialist tack, where beneficial for a rider. Sally is an inspiration to her Group, with no task too small or too large for her to take on, which she will always do to the best of her ability and with a smile. 

“I was amazed to receive a phone call from Luke to say that I have won Coach of the Year.

I have volunteered and coached for the Wilton Group for over 30 years, and having ridden all my life, I enjoy helping people who would not normally have the opportunity to get pleasure out of horses and riding.”

Alison Riley - New Coach of the Year
Alison Riley - New Coach of the Year

New Coach of the Year

Alison Riley – Helen Atkin Group

Since starting a little over a year ago, Alison has absolutely thrown herself into her coaching role. Alison is always on the lookout for ways to improve the experience of the riders and volunteers and will be there hours before her sessions to set up her arena. She has introduced lots of new fun activities, taking input from Dunedin RDA in New Zealand! Alison is never deterred, she wanted soft toy animals to match the dressage signs so that her riders could play an educational and fun matching game and when unable to find V – for vulture and C for crocodile she had some knitted! 

Alison was previously a senior equine nurse so she is very quick to spot any issues and uses her extensive knowledge which she actively keeps up to date to help riders and volunteers understand how a horse works both physically and mentally. Since becoming a coach Alison has encouraged two of her Groups’ young riders who have ceased to attend school to help out as volunteers, in the session before their own session, and the joy and confidence this has brought the participants has been wonderful, with their parents and former teachers also delighted. Alison is an amazing asset to her group, and all at Helen Atkin Group are very proud. 

“As a new coach it’s a huge honour to receive this award. After a career in Equine Nursing I came to my local Helen Atkin RDA group at Buxton Riding School as a volunteer. I was embraced into the group and supported through my coaching journey by our wonderful chair Janine and the coaches and volunteers there. I love sharing my passion for horses and riding and it’s a great feeling to help our riders progress and enjoy it too.”

Lysbeth Stevens - Extra Mile Award
Lysbeth Stevens - Extra Mile Award

The Extra Mile Award

Lysbeth Stevens – Patchwork RDA

Lysbeth has been working at Patchwork RDA for 28 years and is the Group Chair and a Coach. She is the heart and soul of Patchwork RDA, not only does she coach herself, but she also helps with fundraising, horse care, new riders and volunteers, liaison with National Office, meetings and health and safety. She is a very inspirational Chair and is always the first to arrive and the last to leave. 

Lysbeth is committed to developing herself for her group, attending first aid courses and courses on how to support riders with visual and hearing impairments.  Not only did she take this on herself, but she also then passed on her learnings, so all volunteers could benefit and put the recommendations into practice. 

Recently, Lysbeth had a hip operation so she could not be at the stables for 6 weeks, but she was still supporting her Group from her bedside, answering emails and questions. She is so dedicated and sacrifices so much of her time for RDA. Now recovered, she is back attending weekly sessions, thanking every volunteer involved, making sure they feel appreciated. Lysbeth is always thinking of her group and after nearly 3 decades as a coach and volunteer, she really does go the extra mile. 

“RDA is all about team work and this kind Award has to be for the wonderful Patchwork team of which I am honoured to be a member.  I know it will mean a lot to us all.”

Isla Stewart - Young Coach of the Year
Isla Stewart - Young Coach of the Year

Young Coach of the Year

Isla Stewart – Muirfield Riding Therapy 

Isla started volunteering with Muirfield Riding Therapy (MRT) at aged 14 in 2017 and in 2022, she started out on the coaching pathway. Isla is a committed member of the team at MRT and despite being a student nurse, she comes every Saturday to deliver fun and progressive sessions to her participants.  

Isla thrived on the coaching pathway, demonstrating an eagerness to learn and develop her skills. At age 20, she reached the final stages and after glowing feedback from her Regional Coach, became a fully-fledged Group Coach, with later discussions revealing her session was ‘one of the best sessions’ the Regional Coach had ever seen for their first assessment.  

Isla holds the attention of participants and volunteers well; she is perceptive and can pick up on the mood of her participants early on in sessions and makes adaptations to her lesson to accommodate them. Isla has exceptional equine knowledge and has developed a good eye for matching horse and rider, with her knowledge benefiting all her participants. Isla has become an integral part of MRT, continuing her learning and development as a coach and developing positive relationships with her participants, parents and volunteers. 

“I started volunteering on a Saturday morning at Muirfield Riding Therapy when I was 14. Last year I decided to further my involvement by doing my coaching qualification. I work as part of an amazing team of volunteers along with coaches Kym and Caroline. Every week I get to coach our riders and see them progress. 

 It is an honour to receive the award of RDA young coach of the year. I am delighted that I am being recognised for doing something I enjoy and I am proud to be part of.” 

Karen Glasgow - Coach Mentor of the Year
Karen Glasgow - Coach Mentor of the Year

Coach Mentor of the Year

Karen Glasgow – Muirfield Riding Therapy 

Karen encourages those around her to think differently about situations, using her famous ‘why’ question to push her mentees out of their comfort zones and encourages those around her to think and reflect on their own practice. 

As Regional Coach for Edinburgh and Borders Region, she delivers the modules for the coaching pathway to support the development of new Group coaches and those on the coaching pathway and during her training sessions she welcomes conversation and questions and is open about her experiences and continued learning. 

Karen advocates for participants who may be experiencing adversity, speaking up and being their voices when they need someone. Over the past 3 years, Karen has grown tremendously as a coach, she has been a mentor for the first 2 Princess Royal Coaching Academy (PRCA) cohorts and her ability to self-reflect and deal with challenging situations has improved thanks to her own experiences on the Academy. 

Those who she has mentored value her support from their earliest days as a volunteer to Group Coach, all the way through to the Advanced Coach qualification. As she is always developing her own coaching knowledge and she encourages those around her to do the same. 

One of her mentees said in her nomination: “I have reflected a lot on how I have gotten to be the coach I am today, and I can honestly say that it is down to the incredible support, guidance and mentoring that Karen has given to me. Thank you, Karen!” 

“I was absolutely delighted to win the award. I love working with coaches both in groups and mentees from the Princes Royal Coaching Academy. Thank you all for your friendship.”