Bevan and Margaret Bradding

Bevan and Margaret Bradding have turned a lifelong interest in horses into a way to give something back to the community. 

The couple, who were both born in the Waikato, retired in 2000 and have been involved with the Hamilton branch of Riding for the Disabled (RDA) since 2004. 

The Hamilton RDA is one of the biggest in the country, and a wide range of people with disabilities of all ages benefit from their work. Around 130 people participate each week at RDA, with up to 20 volunteers assisting. Bevan and Margaret say that RDA couldn’t offer the services they do without the involvement of volunteers. They enjoy being able to help people overcome challenges and watch them progress and grow in confidence. 

"Many of them have never touched or been near a horse before," says Bevan, "but they learn to be comfortable and more confident."

Margaret says the therapy people receive from riding is not often always obvious, but is very beneficial. 

"They often don’t realise they are exercising. Riding also gives them a different view of the world."  

This therapy can help with confidence in the wider world.

The couple currently spend two mornings a week at the Hamilton RDA centre, where they assist with new volunteers and lead horses.  Both are currently on the committee for RDA Hamilton. 

Finding horses with the right temperament, and caring for the welfare of these horses is important to the organisation.  For Margaret it was naturally something she was interested in, having been brought up on a farm and having an interest in horses for a number of years being involved in Pony club and dressage.  Bevan also finds himself being “Mr. Fix-It” when equipment needs repairs or maintenance, and both are involved in many aspects of the organisation, which can include fundraising and assisting new volunteers. 

Both say they thoroughly enjoy their time at RDA, and volunteering has been an important part of keeping the mind and body active after retirement.

"It gives us a focus," says Margaret. "I have always found it important to give back to the community."

Bevan and Margaret encourage other older people to volunteer as it is enjoyable, but also gives great meaning to life. 

Bevan has the final word. "The help and happiness you can give to others is so important. It’s an important lesson to pass on to other people as well.  The personal satisfaction you derive from helping others makes volunteering such a rewarding experience."

Photo Credit: Sharon Limmer

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Volunteering Waikato at 07 839 3191  or www.volunteeringwaikato.org.nz.​

Page reviewed: 20 Jun 2016 8:59am