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Graham's Story

From the first time I visited and was greeted by Philippa and Luisa I can honestly say that I’ve always felt extremely welcome and valued. The people who volunteer with me have, without exception, always been friendly and good to spend time with; I think this is because they are fundamentally caring people. 

It’s been great to learn new skills (both with handling horses and as a side walker), whether through teaching or experience, and every week is different. I have been impressed with the professionalism of RDA, to the extent that I’d go as far as to say that it beats a lot of businesses in New Zealand on that score. They care about the riders and care about doing things right from a safety and organisational perspective which has been a refreshing change. 

But it is seeing the development and sharing in the joy of the riders, parents/carers and the volunteers that is really magical. I never thought I would feel like I sometimes do when you see how transformational this experience can be for a rider and to be a part of that is fabulous. It is also pretty great to build trust and friendship with a rider who is really excited that you are there to facilitate their experience and to value your presence too. 

All of these things keep me coming back, but it is this last paragraph that is truly special. I first decided to volunteer with North Shore RDA when I was looking for something to do after moving up to the area. I’d previously done a fair bit of conservation volunteering and fancied a change. When I found the RDA website I was a bit unsure because I had no love or experience of either children or horses but I thought I’d give it a try.

Graham Johns

Volunteer since 2022

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