Joan Edwards has been a dedicated and reliable volunteer at Riding for the Disabled, “Tall Timbers” Centre since February 1976.   She volunteers each Monday and assists when she can if other coaches are unable to attend on their normal days. Over the years she has taken on the extra responsibility and study to become a Senior Coach, RDA NSW Assessor and since 2010 a Coaching and Safety Panel member of RDA NSW.

Joan’s knowledge of horses, riding and a range of disabilities are a great advantage to our service.  She has passed on her knowledge to many volunteers, trainee coaches and coaches during her time with RDA. Over the years, hundreds of people with disabilities have benefited from her coaching and knowledge of disabilities.  Riders benefit in many ways including improved balance and co-ordination, increased self-esteem, improved communication and learning social skills to assist with daily living, all of this in a relaxed and caring environment.

As well as her regular weekly classes, Joan is involved with and again volunteers, for many other aspects of our service such as assisting to organise Mounted Games activities including designing the course for Horse of the Year competition at State level and Dressage competitions.  As an Assessor for RDA NSW she travels throughout the state to assess RDA Centres and people wishing to become Assistant Coaches or Coaches.  This also involves marking theory papers, assessing practical exams, keeping up to date with procedures and as there are not many assessors available, Joan is required often.  She is always happy to assist and makes the time to fit in all of these duties.

Some of Joan’s history with RDA includes: taking on the role of Regional RDA Representative for the Sydney Metropolitan RDA Centres from 1999 to 2004.  Part of the job description for Regional Representatives is to assist centres and their committees on policies and procedures, ensuring all operations adhere to RDA safety guidelines, solving any grievances, co-ordinate competition dates between centres and to report periodically to RDA NSW State Office.  Joan was a very competent and respected Regional Representative.

During 1999 Joan was awarded RDA NSW Regional Volunteer of the Year and also received Life Membership to RDA “Tall Timbers” Centre.  She has also been a Committee Member of our Centre for five years being 2000 to 2005 helping to plan fundraising functions, future activities and maintain the smooth running of the Centre. During 2008 Joan was nominated by the RDA “Tall Timbers” committee for RDA NSW Volunteer of the Year.

On Sunday 21st March 2010, at an award Ceremony to celebrate the commencement of NSW Seniors Week, Joan Edwards was one of the sixty award winners from across the State to be presented with an Achievement Award.  Her award was in the category of Community Service/Volunteering. The NSW Seniors Week Achievement Awards are a prestigious recognition of NSW seniors for their contribution to the development of our community, for their leadership and for their initiative. The awards provide an opportunity to formally thank older people for the contributions that they make to the quality of life in our state.

Joan is always keen to attend any extra training which may be of benefit to the riders and volunteers.  She is willing to learn new techniques and games which can be used in classes to make the lessons more beneficial and interesting for both riders and volunteers. She regularly attends RDA local and state workshops to continue upgrading her knowledge and is also involved in the planning of the content of some of these workshops so that others can improve their knowledge and skills.

Joan has dedicated countless hours over the years to assist with fundraising for our Centre, including lamington drives, Castle Hill Show catering, BBQs, Book Fairs, Canteens, Trivia Nights, raffles and the sale of un-needed saddlery.  She also opens her own garden in the spring months to the public to enjoy her lovely property and provides tours and Devonshire teas. She also helps out with the maintenance of our equipment, transporting horses and manning promotional stands to promote RDA and encourage others to become volunteers.

Joan assisted in the planning of our improved facilities at Box Hill and also funded a much needed shade area over the horse yards. 

She is still very active at a “grass roots” level and has capably taken on more responsibility which is essential for the smooth running of Riding for the Disabled Association NSW.

We can always count on Joan to be there and to do things for RDA when necessary.  Joan is reliable, knowledgeable and an inspiration to all.