PROVIDING opportunities for people with disabilities has earned a Kendall Riding for the Disabled stalwart top honours at the 2020 Mid North Coast Volunteer of the Year awards.
Elizabeth Wallace was named the Volunteer of the Year and the Senior Volunteer of the Year on August 21 at a special virtual ceremony.
The awards are a part of the 2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards.
Elizabeth has held multiple roles with the Kendall Riding for the Disabled (RDA) group for the past 15 years.
She is now the club president as well as the riders' coordinator and is spending countless hours working to find the club a permanent new home.
"It came as a complete surprise to me. I was quite sideswiped I didn't even know I had been nominated," Elizabeth said.
"I'm more honoured because I do represent all volunteers don't I? You can't do it on your own and you have to have teams working with you.
"We do what we do for our riders. Just to see their faces. They are missing not riding at the moment and we are missing them. I do phone them and talk to them."
We get more out of it than they do sometimes. You go home with a smile on your face and think to yourself it's a job well done and you are grateful for the blessings you have.- Elizabeth Wallace
Like a true volunteer, Elizabeth says the last 15 years have been wonderful because of the people around her.
"I like horses and I just like bringing smiles to their faces and hearing the laughs," she said.
"Their little faces light up when they come in the ground and see the horses.
"Giving people this opportunity is often their only outlet. Some riders don't communicate at all, but will when they are on the horse.
"We get more out of it than they do sometimes. You go home with a smile on your face and think to yourself it's a job well done and you are grateful for the blessings you have.
"It (the award) was a great surprise - I'm totally speechless."
Kendall RDA, through the tireless work of its volunteers, has been providing riding experiences for people with disabilities for 25 years.
The group has 48 volunteers, seven horses and 24 riders aged between two and 60 with varying levels of disability from cerebral palsy to Downs Syndrome, visual impairment and autism.
The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are an annual program run by The Centre for Volunteering which has grown to become one of the largest celebrations of volunteering across the country.
"Volunteers from across every region of NSW have continued to give their time, energy and compassion in the face of enormous adversity over the past 12 months.This is what the Australian spirit is all about - helping others," The Centre for Volunteering CEO Gemma Rygate said.
"Helping your community and never giving up. I couldn't be more proud of the region's volunteers and their incredible resilience and spirit."
NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said volunteers are the essence of regional communities.
"They're the people raising money for vital causes, they're there for us in terms of emergency and they're the friend on the end of a phone breaking the cycle of isolation," Mr Ward said.
"We can't put a price on volunteers. These regional awards ceremonies are an opportunity to thank all our volunteers and to recognise the best and brightest."
ClubsNSW CEO Josh Landis said volunteers are the backbone of registered clubs across the state, so it was a natural fit for the industry to support such an important program.
"Congratulations to all the volunteers who were recognised for their dedication and commitment," he said.
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