Arena for disabled riders gets green light

By Michele Hunter

Construction of the long-waited indoor arena at Tauranga Riding for the Disabled has been given the green light thanks to a $300,000 community funding boost.
Yesterday funding organisation TECT (Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust) announced a $300,000 grant towards the project with construction to begin on July 13.
The $750,000 arena is on track to be built by Christmas, with pledges and fundraising expected to cover the extra $450,000.
The arena will be built by Tauranga company Belvedere Construction, which is owned by Trevor Wilkinson whose son has autism and is a regular participant at Riding for the Disabled.
"My son gets great benefit from RDA," he said. "He looks forward to coming here. It's great to see him enjoying the outdoors and he's just at ease on a horse."
Mr Wilkinson understood first-hand the need for an indoor arena at Riding for the Disabled.
"If he doesn't get his Saturday morning ride it really puts him out for the week," he said.
He said rallying support from local building supply companies and contractors was also easier once people understood they were giving to Riding for the Disabled.
"No one really took much persuading, it's amazing how generous people are. People don't mind donating goods and services," he said.
The seed capital of $75,000 for the project was raised at the 2009 Tauranga Police CIB Charity Auction.
He said the project had received a good community response despite the Christchurch earthquake putting pressure on the fundraising dollar nationwide.
Tauranga RDA chief executive Kat Macmillan said news the building was set to begin had spread quickly among volunteers and staff at RDA who were overjoyed.

"We almost can't believe it that this vision has been realised, this is a special day," she said.
Mrs Macmillan said the grant enabled them to begin construction while the rest of the money needed was expected to come through over the next five months.
"We are absolutely confident that we will be able to complete this project by Christmas," Mrs Macmillan said.
The RDA will close before building begins this month and is expected to re-open towards the end of August.
Bruce Cronin, TECT's deputy chairman, said the donation would help some of the most vulnerable in the community.
"The benefits of Riding for the Disabled are clear to all involved and to many independent researchers.
"And despite Tauranga's generally wonderful weather we do have winters and we do have storms, so a covered arena allowing all-weather riding is a serious step-up for the facility."
Tauranga RDA will be closed while the current building is demolished and the major earthworks for the indoor arena completed.
To make a donation to the Tauranga Riding for the Disabled Arena Charitable Trust, contact Katharine Birks on (07) 544 1899.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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