Two volunteers who have 75 years of service between them for helping handicapped riders have been honoured for their dedication.
The Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Helen Nellis, presented a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to the Bedford and District Handicapped Riders’ Association (BDHRA) in a ceremony involving the two volunteers.
The presentation was made at the purpose-built Willington Riding Centre facility when Mrs Nellis presented the official certificate, signed by HM The Queen, to Sue Hayhurst, who has been a volunteer for 39 years, and a beautifully designed domed glass crystal to Helen Dunster, who has been a volunteer for 36 years.
The Queen’s Award – which is the highest a voluntary group can receive and is the equivalent of an MBE for individuals – is all about volunteering, without which the BDHRA would not be able to operate.
Mrs Nellis read out a commendation from the Queen, in which she specifically thanked the Godber family, the Twigden family and Jean Bedford MBE for their involvement in the charity. Her most expressive thanks were to the volunteers who give up their time each week to ensure that riding days are always happy days.
Mrs Nellis said: “Bedford and District Handicapped Riders Association is an exceptionally well-run, high quality, organisation and represents the very best example of how well co-ordinated and dedicated volunteers can make a genuine impact on their local community. I give my personal congratulations to them and all the wonderful team of volunteers who have worked so hard to achieve this honour.”
Rebecca Twigden said: “This is such a proud moment in our history as a group, one we will treasure for many years to come. Everyone who helps us here at our centre is valued for the work they do. We feel immensely honoured to have been singled out in this way.
“We receive no public funding and rely entirely on voluntary contributions to cover our annual running costs of approximately £26,000. Capital expenses incurred are in excess of this figure. Now we will be able to use the Queen’s Award logo in our applications for funding and it will certainly help us.”