Hamiltonian husband and wife Bevan and Margaret Bradding, who helped establish the Hamilton Group Riding for the Disabled (RDA) and helped buy the group's first horse, have each received the Queen's Service Medal for their services to the community.

"We were blown away - staggered - when we first got the news," says Mr Bradding

"Our first thought was, was it for real," says Mrs Bradding, "we thought it may be a scam when we first got the email."

Mr Bradding received a Hamilton City Council community service award in 2013 and had been disappointed that his wife had not been included.

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"So, I was very pleased - but staggered."

The couple had known all through lockdown that the honours were in the pipeline but had been unable to tell anyone; none of their fellow residents at the Hamilton retirement village where they now live and not even their children - two sons in Auckland and a daughter in National Park.

Asked how they might celebrate when the QSM news becomes official, Mr Bradding said: "Nothing special planned, we are both in our mid-80s, so we are not youngsters any more; we might have a glass of wine.

"We do have an RDA meeting on Monday afternoon, but it is just a regular scheduled meeting."

Both are still committee members of Hamilton RDA, having helped establish the organisation in 2004.

A typical morning at Hamilton Group RDA as riders enjoy an outing with Horse Leaders and Sidewalkers. Photo / Supplied
A typical morning at Hamilton Group RDA as riders enjoy an outing with Horse Leaders and Sidewalkers. Photo / Supplied

Mr Bradding is also a former RDA president and the couple have been involved in all aspects of the organisation, from the committee to competitions, people management, training and development.

They continue to volunteer with RDA two days a week, helping in a range of ways.

Mrs Bradding and her husband have helped organise Christmas celebrations and sponsor days for the group. She assisted the Hamilton Group RDA's then head coach to attend the first New Zealand Para-Equestrian championships in 2010.

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She was a dressage judge for Dressage New Zealand for more than 20 years, being awarded New Zealand Dressage Judge of the Year in 2007.

Mrs Bradding was also a pool examiner for the Royal Life Saving Society from 1974 to 1993 and received several awards from the Society recognising her contributions.

Mr Bradding was a member of the East Hamilton Lions Club from 1972 to 2002, serving one year as president.

Through the Lions Club, he was a member of the Waitetuna Lodge Appeal Committee that organised the construction of the Waitetuna Lodge and has co-ordinated the Lions Club's cancer telephone appeal.

In their working life, the Braddings were both pharmacists and farmers.

"We had a small farm at Eureka, and then Brentwood," says Mr Bradding.

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"We used to run the pharmacy at Glenview in Hamilton - opposite Collins Rd.

"We also worked in Wellington for a while but we are both born and raised in Hamilton and through and through Hamiltonians," he says.

"When we retired and became townies we wanted to keep our interest in horses, especially Margaret who has had a life-long interest in horses, so RDA it was, because when madam says jump I just ask how high."

Like the Braddings, the Hamilton Group RDA is still going strong with around 130 participants each week and is the largest such group in the country.

Even the group's first horse - named Ace - is still working at the centre in Pukete.

"We paid for half the cost, says Mrs Bradding, "that was in November 2007 - everyone loves him, although he is doing a bit less now that he is older."

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The RDA group has been in recess during the Covid-19 lockdown, but will be starting again in Term 3.

Coach/manager Hannah Doughty says last year the group helped 175 riders experiencing disability reach their goals and build their skills and abilities to enable them to live their best lives.

The charity has a team of 12 horses who, along with coaches and volunteers, gave over 3500 rides throughout the year.

It continues to rely on volunteers, needing at least eight people each morning to run the sessions and they support riders to achieve their goals as horse leaders and sidewalkers.

There are also a variety of other roles people can take on to support the group. Find out more here.
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