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Horowhenua Chronicle - 2021-11-26

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Life changing riding group seeks community help

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Levin RDA is looking for a new home, its president Stephen Oatley said. RDA has been based at at Speldhurst Country Estate, Levin (the former Kimberley Residential Centre), for years and this year celebrated its 40th birthday there. It is one of 52 groups throughout New Zealand affiliated to the NZ Riding for the Disabled Association. “We are grateful to Speldhurst developer and group patron Wayne Bishop for enabling our presence within Speldhurst. However, the explosive growth of Speldhurst as an attractive lifestyle option for retirees makes the search for a ‘forever home’ from which the group can further evolve and expand, a logical next step,” said Oatley, who would love to find at least 51⁄2 hectares (14 acres) to restart the service. Village expansion planned to start early in 2022, including the construction of supported living accommodation, followed by hospital level care facilities, will considerably reduce the land available on which to graze the ponies and horses. This coupled with a concern that construction activity in proximity to the group’s Ann Smith Arena may create a risk to the safety of riders, horses and volunteers, makes the search for a suitable new home a logical decision, said Oatley. While it had been suggested that horses and ponies could be transported off site for grazing, the Levin RDA committee considered this possibility not practical. The search for a new location has begun already. Oatley is calling upon all in the community, businesses and individuals, to consider ways in which they may assist in the retention and growth of this service. There is always strong demand for places in the programme and a waiting list exists. Oatley is optimistic the group will garner strong support from the local community for the retention of what is a valued and longstanding community service. Since its inception in Levin over 40 years ago the group has, through its therapeutic horse riding programmes, transformed the lives of many riders and offered much needed support to their families and those who support them. Conscious of competing demands for land, especially housing, the group is seeking to locate about 5ha, more would be great, on which to establish an arena and grazing. There are many ways in which people may assist Levin RDA in its quest. Most especially by tapping into their networks to put the word out about the search for land. Raising the necessary funding will be an ongoing project. Once suitable land has been secured, funding will be sought to establish the arena. All funding opportunities will be actively pursued. Success of this project will be determined in no small measure by public goodwill and appreciation for the life changing therapy it provides. For more information and if you would like to help in anyway please contact Stephen Oatley stephen. oatley@rdagroup.nz

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