Volunteers and supporters of a Buxton-based charity offering riding therapy for disabled people of all ages are celebrating news that the group has received recognition in a prestigious regional award scheme for unsung heroes who have a positive impact on their community.

Helen Atkin Group Buxton Riding for the Disabled (RDA) has been highly commended in the Community Group category of BBC Radio Derby’s Make a Difference Awards, aimed at rewarding remarkable individuals and groups across Derbyshire and East Staffordshire.

The awards – in eight categories ranging from Great Neighbour and Fundraiser to Key Worker and Carer – aim to celebrate the radio station’s 50th anniversary year by spotlighting people who have gone the extra mile both during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are thrilled to have been one of only four finalists in the Community Group category, and delighted to receive this recognition for our work,” said Group Chairperson Janine Frost, who accepted the award on the group’s behalf from Don Amott, owner of Don Amott Leisure near Derby, at a special event at Derby Theatre on Sunday September 4.

“It’s great news, not only for our founding members, including Pat Atkin and Julie Andrew, but also to the scores of people who have made a massive contribution to the success of our group over the past 35 years – many of whom continue to help us provide regular and therapeutic riding sessions for everyone from toddlers to older people.

“They are all very much valued and too numerous to mention, but I would like to highlight the pivotal role my predecessor Wendy Howe had in kick-starting an ambitious fund-raising appeal to build a £180,000 covered arena at our base, Buxton Riding School, so that our riders can benefit whatever the capricious High Peak climate can throw at us!

“The fund-raising took place largely before Covid, then during the pandemic two of our key supporters, Louise and Dave Thompson, owners of Buxton Riding School, toiled virtually round the clock to complete the groundwork so that the arena could be built and used as soon as possible after the lockdowns, when it was safe and appropriate to do so.

“Since it opened in October 2021 around 50 volunteers have been supporting twice-weekly riding sessions for around 80 disabled people of all ages and abilities for most of the year, helping to boost their physical and mental health, as well as improving their confidence and quality of life.

“This is a well-deserved pat on the back for all those involved, both past and present, who have tirelessly given – and continue to give – their time, expertise, fund-raising skills and energy to make a real difference to so many disabled people’s lives.”

Winners in the Community Group category were Fatball Derby and Long Eaton, whose members meet regularly to play football in mixed teams and donate any profits to local and national charities.

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