Lifetime award for Deeside volunteer

Sandra Cairns with her award being presented by Aileen Longino with Jill Randalls, RDA Deeside Group chairperson, also pictured
Sandra Cairns with her award being presented by Aileen Longino with Jill Randalls, RDA Deeside Group chairperson, also pictured

A Banchory woman has received a special award for volunteering.

Sandra Cairns has devoted 30 years to the Riding for the Disabled Association Deeside Group.

The Deeside group was established more than 30 years ago

The Deeside group was established more than 30 years ago

She has now received a lifetime achievement award from Aberdeenshire Voluntary Action (AVA) for her unstinting commitment to the small local charity, virtually since it was formed.

The Deeside group provides riding activities specially designed for children and adults with physical and learning difficulties.

The honour came as complete surprise to Sandra, who is 70.

She told the Piper: “It came out of the blue and I’m absolutely delighted.

“It’s very rewarding work and everyone gets on so well.”

Sandra, who works as a side helper with young riders, started with RDA when she was asked to do a volunteering stint not long after the group was formed.

She said: “I just enjoy it so much and it’s great to see the pleasure the children get out of it.”

Sandra helps out on Tuesday mornings with primary age youngsters.

Sessions are also held for older children and adults on Friday mornings at the World Horse Welfare Centre near Aboyne.

Deeside Group secretary Lesley Young said they were delighted Sandra’s “exceptional contribution” had been recognised by AVA.

She added: “Our volunteers are the lifeblood of RDA, without them and the donations and legacies we rely upon, we could not offer these life changing activities to our communities.

“Sandra has over 30 years of volunteer experience with RDA. She is cheerful, dependable, always willing to take on new roles and has the ability to quietly work with the rider to build their confidence, maximise achievement and their enjoyment of the sessions.

“She has a natural ability with our clients, she is a willing volunteer at our fundraising and social activities and we are very fortunate to have her support our group.”

AVA development officer Aileen Longino said the long-serving volunteer was thoroughly deserving of the accolade.

She added: “Sandra is amazing - we don’t give out many lifetime achievement awards but she has been a tremendous support to the organisation committing to helping weekly, encouraging riders and supporting instructors.”