Sam Orde, Chair of Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) from 2009 to 2018, has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours list, receiving an OBE for services to disabled people.
Sam began volunteering with RDA at her local group, Morpeth RDA, in Northumberland 25 years ago. She trained as an RDA Coach and worked tirelessly at group, regional and national levels to help transform opportunities for disabled people to benefit from the therapy and fun of horses.
Sam became Chair of RDA UK in 2009, steering the charity through an exciting decade of change and development, helping to challenge attitudes to disability and raising the profile of RDA as leaders in disability sport. She was instrumental in the building of RDA’s first ever National Training Centre, which opened as part of the charity’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2019.
Sam said: “Like many of RDA’s 18,000 volunteers, I began helping out at my local group when my children started at school and I had a bit more time. That was 25 years ago and I have loved it from day one: the teamwork, the people, and the opportunity every week to make a real difference.
There have been so many highlights – both as a volunteer at Morpeth and as Chair of the national organisation – but it all comes back to the people – the volunteers and participants who make RDA such a uniquely rewarding experience.
The news of the OBE was a complete surprise – but a lovely one. It has given me an opportunity to reflect on 25 happy years with an organisation that means so much. I will receive the Honour with a huge amount of gratitude for all the amazing individuals that have supported and inspired me throughout my time with RDA.”
RDA UK Chief Executive, Ed Bracher said: “There is no one more deserving of this recognition than Sam. She has given so much to RDA over the years and we have much to thank her for. As our Chair she was dedicated, forward-thinking and ambitious for us as an organisation. There were many times when we benefited from her knowledge and experience, as well as her tenacity and clarity of thought. We would not be the organisation we are today without her hard work, and this Honour is a fitting tribute to the time and commitment she has shown over so many years.”
Following her Chairmanship of RDA UK, Sam became Chair of Activity Alliance in 2018, and is also a trustee for the London Marathon Charitable Trust.