Inspiring Volunteer of the Year
This year’s ‘Inspiring Volunteer of The Year’ is Barbara Johnstone, the founder and driving force behind Ravelrig Riding for the Disabled.
Now in its sixth year, Edinburgh’s ‘Inspiring Volunteering’ Awards continue to recognise those who give their time, energy and passion to helping others. Working in areas as diverse as adult education, home care, mediation, youth work, the arts, the environment and supporting people with a range of health and personal issues, the volunteers and initiatives receiving this year’s awards are a testament to the strength of the voluntary sector in Edinburgh and the continuing willingness of people to get involved.
Barbara Johnstone first became involved in Riding for the Disabled (RDA) at Gogarburn Hospital in 1981 where her daughter attended the special care unit as a day patient. Her experience there inspired Barbara to establish a brand new RDA group for Barnardos Children’s Home in Balerno 25 years ago. Since then she has developed the Ravelrig RDA facility from a muddy field with just two ponies to the present pristine equine facilities - offering riding sessions to approximately 110 different riders per week and involving over 70 volunteers. Barbara has also ensured that the service benefits the families and carers of the riders as she knows more than most what an hour of relaxation, respite and friendly chat in tranquil surroundings can mean to the families and carers of disabled people.
Over the last 25 years Barbara has co-ordinated over 40,000 riding sessions to over 1,000 individual riders, cared for and trained 38 horses and ponies, raised over £1,100,000 in funds and recruited approximately 2,000 volunteers Now Barbara is leading the group in its biggest project so far: She is at the forefront of raising approximately £1m of funds to enable an indoor arena to be built. Patricia Richardson, a Ravelrig RDA committee member said “Her commitment to Ravelrig RDA never fades and has ensured that many groups of people have had their lives greatly enhanced. Barbara's selfless dedication to the facility that she built from scratch is truly an inspiration to us all”.
- Craig Turner – 6 June 2012