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The History of Willow Grove Park 

By David Grey

Back in the 1990’s NSRDA rented land at Oteha Valley Road, more or less opposite the Albany Bus Station. We had a barn where we could ride during rainy weather. 

After about 2 years, the owners of the land wanted it for other purposes, and we were forced to shift. 

We moved the barn and all to Foleys Quarry Road just north of Albany village. After being there for about 3 years, NSRDA decided to fundraise to improve the facilities. 

As the treasurer at the time, I set about applying to the Auckland Savings Bank for funds only to be told that the bank was being sold but fortuitously had money from the sale to dispose of to the community. 

After negotiations they suggested it would be best for RDA Inc. to buy land rather than having to shift about every 4 years as it was then.  Another committee member, David Aspinall and his fellow volunteers including Pam Martin and Colleen Masters found nine acres in Aubrey Road and applied for the funding only to be told that the ASB funds couldn’t be given to an Incorporated Society and that we would have to form a Trust. 

So, with help from Bank staff and the help of our Lawyer, Bruce Westbrooke and Accountant, Bob Browne, a Trust was formed, going on to buy the land at Aubrey Road in 1999. 

In 2000, major construction occurred with electricity, water, sewage as well as council permits, building plans etc for building of the new barn and the bush riding trail. To this day, we continue to lease a further eight acres from our generous adjacent neighbours, the Long family. 

Willow Grove has continued to grow and expand over the years and with fundraising assistance, the outdoor arena was completed in 2008, a new sensory trail in 2022.  After extensive efforts fundraising, led by Adrianne Cranshaw, the all-weather arena cover went up on the arena late in 2023 and was officially opened on March 2nd, 2024.

What a difference volunteers can make to our organisation. Thank you to all involved in establishing North Shore RDA with its own land and continuing to improve our facilities.

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