Agnes’s 90th birthday party scoops her unique 40 years award – and the RDA’s “Over & Above” award for volunteer, Paul
Members, volunteers, and clients of the Somerset Levels RDA Carriage-Driving Group were among more than 100 guests to celebrate the 90th birthday of their most ardent and active supporter.
The 90th birthday party for Agnes Smalley, one of the group’s trainers and fund-raisers, saw her presented with a unique award from the RDA (Riding for the Disabled) to mark her 40 years of service to the charity by Sue Ingleby, Chairman of the South West Region.
Sue Ingleby also used Agnes’s 90th birthday party to present the national award for “Over & Above” services to the Somerset Levels group volunteer, Paul Marsh.
Every week, Agnes finds a way of getting from her home in Frome to the carriage-driving group’s base near Street to provide the refreshments and training for the group’s disabled drivers.
Having been an active supporter of riding and driving for the disabled for four decades, Agnes uses a rocking horse, miniature harness set and a toy wagon to teach disabled people about carriage driving.
She also oversees the Somerset Levels group’s tea-urn for its weekly sessions, and is an ardent fund raiser for the group.
Her most recent achievements include seeing three of her latest disabled trainees attaining their Grade 2 proficiency certificate, despite severe disabilities.
According to the RDA’s Regional carriage-driving representative, Jenny Pennell, who conducted the assessments: “They were a credit to their trainer, Agnes, and were all very excited to be given their badges and certificates”.
Meanwhile, her fellow group volunteer, Paul Marsh, was presented with the national RDA award for “Over & Above” services, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Somerset Levels RDA carriage driving group.
Those services include caring for the group’s ponies, servicing the group’s specially converted carriages, helping at every client-service event, and managing the use of the group’s horse-box. Paul also volunteers for the riding group based at Burcott once a week.
According the Vice-Chair of the Somerset Levels RDA Carriage-driving group, Caroline Sturgess: “We were all thrilled that the national RDA has acknowledged the extraordinary contribution that Agnes has made over 40 years, and also used her 90th birthday party to mark the outstanding work of Paul to keep our group running so successfully”.