A Tauranga retired police man has been named the Riding for the Disabled Volunteer of the Year.

Neil Flemming was one of about eighty volunteers from the Tauranga district who support the riding therapy programs at Tauranga RDA.

Each year the organization selects one outstanding volunteer to become Tauranga RDA volunteer of the year.

Neil is a retired police officer and for the past seven years Neil has been a familiar figure at RDA.


He volunteers for up to three days a week and even when he has had a period of ill health and was unable to drive he would call on his wife to drive him up to Welcome Bay so that he could keep on top of the jobs that needed doing.

Tauranga RDA Chief Executive Officer Kat Macmillan said Neil was "one in a million".

"He's turning eighty today and we are holding a surprise party for him where we'll present him with his trophy.

"He's such a humble man and never wants a fuss but we think to be eighty years old and volunteering around the farm doing some quite physical jobs deserves a bit of a fuss!

"Neil has taken on a range of jobs from fence fixing, to building, to repairing troughs. He designed and built the therapy riding sensory trails, assisted with the construction of the caretakers cottage and helped with the upgrading of the ablution black to its new role as a hay shed.

"You name it and as far as the maintenance and the running of the farm and the facilities Neil seems to have had a hand in everything."

For farm manager, Ray Thomas, Neil is an absolute god-send.

"He has such a wide range of maintenance and building experience that he has been invaluable to the smooth running of the farm and the care of the facilities. Even when recovering from major surgery he came at least three days a week and helped."