Local hero with passion for ‘four legged therapists’

Local Hero Annette Wilson can talk about horses – and the organisation she has worked with for 17 years, Riding for the Disabled (RDA) – till the cows come home.

However, she is uncomfortable when the spotlight turns on her, as it has following her selection as one of three winners of the inaugural Westfield Albany Local Hero competition.

The win last month provides $10,000 to RDA, which will be used to purchase a horse to add to the eight that the charitable organisation currently owns.

Annette was chosen as Local Hero for her dedication to RDA, which has seen her support horses, riders and volunteers ever since she joined, 17 years ago. At RDA, based in Stillwater, riders with various special needs are able to connect with horses in ways that are therapeutic.

Annette says it has been wonderful to see the group’s facilities improve to the point where it has a purpose built outdoor arena as well as a large barn.

Annette has lived on the Hibiscus Coast all her life, growing up in Orewa where her family rented land for their horses to graze on and she walked through the paddocks to school. She remembers as a youngster being told off by Council for riding horses on Orewa Beach.

Later, when married with children, she lived on a 4ha block in Orewa and again had her own horses, this time going riding with her daughter.

At one time the family looked after a horse that was owned by local developers Hopper Construction. The Clydesdale, called Bud, pulled a cart around Orewa, as well as attending community events to advertise the development at Maygrove.

Annette is at RDA every week, as team leader and is also on the governance committee.

She was presented with her Local Hero award at a ceremony in Albany on August 13.

RDA is always looking for volunteers, info: www.info@northshorerda.org.