RDA needs a new home
Riding for the Disabled has a new arena, a large number of available and willing volunteers and a big waiting list – but it doesn’t have a lease.
The Wellington branch of the organisation has been based in the grounds of the old Porirua Hospital since 1985 but must now move on.
Clients have disabilities including epilepsy, Down syndrome and autism, with riding therapy contributing towards building confidence, coordination and muscle strength.
There are more than 50 volunteers involved in the Porirua operation, and 54 clients visit every week, with another 30 on a waiting list.
The two plots of land, rented by the Wellington Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) for a ‘‘peppercorn’’ rate of $1 a month, was sold by Capital & Coast District Health Board earlier this year.
One plot, mostly used for grazing horses, must be vacated by December 31. The other, which has the arena, office and haybarn on it, must be vacated by June 31, 2011.
Resigned to moving on, RDA is seeking another location, preferably in Porirua to provide consistency for its clients, says vicepresident Donna Kennedy.
The organisation had ‘‘ assumed the land would be ours and we could negotiate with the new owners’’, but this had not been the case.
‘‘We’re looking at places we can go, but it’s at the very early stages yet. We need good, flat land for an arena, clubrooms and grazing, about 15 or 20 acres [ six to eight hectares]. We’re looking at having to pay commercial leases, too. We’ve had it pretty good up till now.’’
Volunteer Jane Weggery says it will be an ‘‘absolute tragedy’’ if the service closes. ‘‘ A lot of people will be denied a great opportunity. This is a place where magic happens.’’
Capital & Coast’s director of change, Luke Worth, acknowledges the long relationship with RDA and the service it provides.
He says the DHB is ‘‘committed’’ to helping it find a new home.
Ms Kennedy can be contacted on 027 235 8702.
Time to move: Wellington Riding for the Disabled operations manager Toni Gray, left, with Carrot, and volunteer Jane Weggery, with Bilbo. The organisation is desperately searching for a new home in Porirua.