Anna Celebrates a Lifetime of Volunteering with RDA

Anna Power receives her long service award. She is in the middle of four other people, who are dressed in Christmas fancy dress.
Anna Power with her certificate, L to R: Jackie Rubin, Trustee; Denise Sisk, Unicorn Centre Volunteer Co-ordinator; Sue Gaffney Trustee and Pat White, Chair of Trustees (dressed up as Elves for the Unicorn Centre's Pony Rides to Santa event!)

Anna Power, a volunteer with the Riding for the Disabled Association’s Unicorn Centre based at Hemlington, Middlesbrough, has been presented with the RDA’s 25 Years of Service for Volunteering.

However, that’s not the full story.  Anna, now from near Stokesley, North Yorkshire, was one of the pioneering volunteers when RDA started in 1969, and even before that. Her contribution to RDA over the years has been enormous, and she still continues in a fundraising capacity today.

Anna said, “I and some other friends were persuaded to go carol singing on our ponies to raise money for an experiment at Winford Orthopaedic Hospital near Bristol where a physio was convinced there were benefits from using ponies for therapy.  This was considered sufficiently unusual that we ended up with our photo on the front of Horse and Hound!  This was all before RDA was even thought of.

She continued, “In the mid 70s, whilst I was working in London,  I discovered there was a group at Knightsbridge Barracks.  By this time RDA had been going for a few years and there was a bit of framework to what we were doing.  The bonus to this group was that we got to have a free ride as the ponies had to be collected from stables in Bayswater and ridden across Hyde Park.  One week when there was a hiccup and no ponies, one of the guardsmen volunteers got permission from his Commanding Officer for us to have a conducted tour round the stables and other facilities at the barracks.  The tack room was incredible.  Another memory was muck disposal.  Everything got swept or barrowed to a spot where heavy doors were lifted up and you just tipped into a skip underneath.  The loose boxes for the drum horses were massive and had extra reinforcement. “

Anna moved with her family to North Yorkshire in the 1980s and joined the Gt Ayton & District RDA group where she played a leading role helping with lessons and on the committee until it amalgamated into the Unicorn Centre group in 1998. She then continued at the Unicorn Centre as a coach for many years, and is an enthusiastic fundraiser.

Pat White, Chair of the Unicorn Centre Trustees said, “Anna’s contribution to RDA generally, and in particular to the Unicorn Centre has been outstanding. We’re so grateful for her hard work and commitment and the impact she has made on people using our services has been immense.”