RIDING for the Disabled Tall Timbers Centre's newest life member Charlie Aquilina said he spent years wondering what happened there.
"I live about 10 properties up — it was my daughter [Renee Aquilina] who coaxed me into going," said Mr Aquilina who has a background in thoroughbred and trotter horse breeding.
That was nearly 10 years ago.
As he quickly found out, the centre provides horse riding and related activities, like carriage driving, for people with disabilities.
Riders can participate at a therapeutic, recreational or competitive level.
"I lead the horses and walk with the children, I do maintenance and every fourth Sunday of the month I supervise a bus load of community service workers who do gardening and maintenance around the property," Mr Aquilina said.
"I was a bit taken aback at first with the children; some of them were quite sick, but it's very rewarding . . . to see them improve physically and in confidence.
"I get more out of it than they do."
Mr Aquilina was recognised as a life member at a luncheon two weeks ago.
■ 2013 Volunteer of the Year: Jim Moreland;
■ 2013 Volunteer Appreciation Award: Michelle Murray;
■ Bill Harvey Memorial Shield Award for most improved Saturday riders: Grace Hobbs and Lee Prince-Mollica;
■ Lions of Kuringai Encouragement Award: Aaron Thurmer; and
■ Tall Timbers Centre Horse of the Year Award for 2013: Ozzy.
The RDA Tall Timbers Centre at 125 Old Pitt Town Road, Box Hill, needs volunteers to help run riding, life skills and carriage driving programs and to assist with fund-raising and property maintenance. Visit its volunteer recruitment stand at Rouse Hill Town Centre (outside Turbo Turtle Drycleaners) on February 3-5.