After two years of hard work and fundraising Wanganui Riding for the Disabled (RDA) is pleased to announce the successful purchase of their premises in London St.
RDA chairwoman Sian MacGibbon said the charity is now the official owner of the grounds and buildings at 233 and 237 London St after purchasing them from the NZ Transport Agency.
"This is fantastic news and has been achieved through two years of hard work fundraising, submitting grants, getting gifts and receiving two last-minute loans for a shortfall," MacGibbon said.
"By purchasing this land we now have the security that we have been looking for, this will allow us to look at how we can expand our services, and better serve our riders and our community."
Operations manager Wendy Sellars said the purchase means RDA now owns 80 per cent of the facilities they use every day for housing horses and working with disabled riders.
"We lease the other 20 per cent from Whanganui District Council," she said.
"We raised $46k from fundraising activities, $170k was received from grants and the shortfall came from two last-minute loans.
"We are extremely grateful to the Four Regions Trust for the contribution of three grants totalling $150k, to Gallaghers in Hamilton for a donation of $20k, and to the local trust and anonymous benefactor who provided us with a loan for the shortfall."
Sellars said RDA has been exceptionally lucky in the support they have received from donations and fundraising events including the Charity Golf Tournament run by NZME which owns the Chronicle, Christmas at the Races, Give a Kid a Ride in a Truck Day, sausage sizzles and much more," she said.
RDA has been part of the Whanganui community since 1973 and Sellars said the organisation prides itself on being able to provide goal-based riding activities that help to increase the ability, strength and confidence of people with physical, intellectual, emotional and social challenges.
"We are looking at adding in a Health and Wellness programme that will allow us to reach a wider community base with equine therapy and wellness," Sellars said.
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Each week up to 70 riders are assisted by Sellars, Robyn Mann and Lance Sellars, supported by "a wonderful group of 46 volunteers".
One rider who has experienced noticeable benefits is 7-year-old Jess Perkins from Bulls.
Jess has cerebral palsy and her mum Annie Clarkson said the benefits of riding at RDA have been very noticeable in her daughter.
"Jess has always had very good upper body strength, due to having to hold herself up most of her life, but her lower body and core strength were always very lacking.
"After only a single term at RDA Jess' leg and core strength had noticeably increased. She was able to do more physical activities with her friends and actually participate in challenges and competitions, rather than sitting and watching."
Clarkson said Jess' balance has also improved, along with her confidence, and she is more able to maintain her mobility in crowded places.
RDA still needs to fundraise in order to repay loans and cover regular costs but Sellars said knowing the milestone of ownership has been achieved is a fantastic feeling.
She said the RDA committee is looking to host an event in October where they will be able to celebrate with the community and thank their supporters.
To make a donation, to volunteer or to find out more visit www.rda.org.nz or call 027 342 9826