Recognition for Coach who brought therapeutic riding to Russia

RDA ‘Birt Spooner’ Cup awarded to Lead Coach and International Liaison

Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) has presented coach and RDA Fellow Sue Adams-Wheeler with the prestigious Birt Spooner Cup. The cup is awarded to an individual who has supported and promoted the cause of RDA in an outstanding way.

Sue accepted the award during RDA’s virtual AGM, chaired by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal. In her acceptance speech she recalled the challenges of bringing RDA to Russia – at a time when the authorities refused to acknowledge that disability existed – and other pioneering trips around the world.

Sue started with RDA journey in 1976 as part of Leominster group in Herefordshire. Her passion for coaching and the development of standards across RDA soon earned her a place on what was then known as the Training Committee, from where Sue’s role as an ambassador for RDA coaching both at home and abroad really took off.

She travelled to Russia just at the end of Perestroika. “Russia had a policy that disabled people did not exist, so they didn’t provide any support or activities,” Sue explains. “I had no idea what I was in for and had so many adventures. I spent three years going backwards and forwards to Russia, and travelled all over.”

Since then Sue has presented at conferences all over the world, and brought RDA coaching and training to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Kelantan, Penang, Borneo, Kwala Lumpur and Singapore.

In China, Sue and fellow RDA coach and physiotherapist Lynne Munro worked with American charity, Hope, to help disabled orphans – a legacy of China’s One Child policy. More recently, RDA has taken her to Korea, where she trained horses for a programme supporting military and fire service personnel with PTSD.

“They are all adventures in themselves,” says Sue. “Sometimes fun, sometimes really very frightening, but always I’ve enjoyed it. I’m so honoured to get this award.”