National volunteer award for Cambridge student
Sixteen-year-old Cambridge High School student Maddy Stratford has won the national New Zealand Riding for the Disabled Young Volunteer of the Year award.
Her win was announced at the NZRDA annual Awards Dinner in Wellington on May 26 and took RDA Cambridge operations manager Vanessa Donnelly by surprise.
Vanessa says as MP Kris Faafoi was reading out the citation for the Young Volunteer of the year, she began to recognise the words he was reading.
“They were my words I had written a few weeks prior, talking about one of our own amazing young volunteers.”
Vanessa says Maddy is a deserving winner.
“We all have those volunteers whom we’re extra glad of their presence on an RDA day because we know we have someone we can count on to get on with the job.
“Maddy is one of those volunteers for us at Cambridge RDA.
“She is definitely not just there for the horses and that can be a novel concept for the younger volunteers,” she says.
Maddy and her younger sister Sophia, 14, started volunteering at RDA six years ago.
They have been regulars at Saturday morning sessions since then, mucking out paddocks, cleaning tack, working with the horses and doing other jobs until they turned 14 and were able to complete the volunteer training course.
“I was 10 when I started at RDA and being 14 seemed so long away then, but I wanted to stay to be an official trained volunteer,” says Maddy.
“I really enjoy working with the riders and it’s great to see how far they’ve come since I first started. I also love the atmosphere. It’s a great community and everyone is so kind to each other.
“I knew RDA had nominated me for a Waipa¯ Youth award, but that’s not until next week and I had no idea about the national RDA awards.
“I was stunned when Mum read out Vanessa’s email — it’s such an honour.”
Maddy’s win is the second major award for RDA Cambridge in the last 12 months. The group also took out the 2017 Supreme Winner of the Trustpower Waipa¯ Community Awards.
NEW Zealand Riding for the Disabled Young Volunteer of the Year Maddy Stratford.