A founder member of the Banbridge Group of Riding for the Disabled has been awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List for her work with the association.
Mrs Julie Jordan, who is Regional chairperson of the RDA, has been a volunteer with the organisation most of her life and has helped drive it forward, not just in Northern Ireland but throughout the United Kingdom.
Julie, who is married to well-known farmer Henry Jordan, began her volunteering with a RDA group in Moy and in the 1980s was asked to set up another group in the Lurgan area.
“She founded Banbridge and Moira Group (the groups are generally named for where the riders come from, as opposed to where the group rides) and they are still one of our most successful groups,” said Katy Uprichard, of the RDA.
“Julie took up regional committee roles and fulfilled them all with enthusiasm and gusto and a few years ago she began her term as regional chairperson.
“Under her, the region has gone from strength to strength and is now one of the most successful within the whole of the UK and Ireland. I had no problem finding people to write testimonials in support of the application for her contribution to be recognised.
“It didn’t take long for National Office in Warwick to see how valuable an asset she is and she has now accepted the role of National Trustee, overseeing many of the activities taken on by RDA groups throughout the whole of the UK. This involves a lot of travelling to the UK mainland and time away from her family, but she brings the same enthusiasm to this role as she has to all she has done before.
“Without our volunteers, the RDA could not continue. Without volunteers like Julie, willing to give that extra something and spend long hours on the red tape and technical minutae, no charity could ever get off the ground. She has always gone above and beyond and we are all thrilled that she has finally been recognised for all of her hard work.”
Julie said she was delighted for the charity. “The whole family have been very supportive. They are all very excited,” she said.
The Northern Ireland Region of the Riding for the Disabled Association currently has 29 groups, 1,000 volunteers and 1,000 riders and drivers.
By working directly with 18 care centres and 40 schools, along with individuals, the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) seeks to help those who will benefit most from the therapy achieved through horse riding while encouraging riders to reach their full potential and compete at the top level.
The advantages of horse riding come in many forms ranging from building muscle tone to encouraging self confidence and improving balance.
For children and adults with learning disabilities and mobility problems the RDA provides access to one of the very few outdoor activities available for the disabled community.
At the moment the RDA are keen to recruit new volunteers who would be able to give up some time to help with weekly sessions, or horse owners who would be willing to loan their horse/pony for these riding lessons. Check out the RDA site www.ridingforthedisabledni.org.uk for information.