Leon Mills Memorial Award
This award was created in memory of a young RDA rider, volunteer and trainee coach who was tragically killed in a car crash returning from Australia Day celebrations in 2006. Leon was a huge part of our RDA family in Collie for over 14 years. Leon is an inspiration to us all and this award recognises our younger volunteers (under 25) who like Leon have made an outstanding commitment to their RDA centre i.e. regular attendance, willing acceptance of different roles and responsibilities, pride in what they do.
We are inviting RDAWA centres, volunteers, participants, coaches and parents/carers to nominate a volunteer they think should be recognised for their part in helping to change the lives of others.
Below is a story Leon wrote for our 2006 Year Book which he sadly never got to see in print.
From RDA Rider to Coach
I started riding with the Collie RDA centre when I was 6 years old and continued to ride until I was 13, I then rejoined the centre at the age of 16 on work experience. The first day of work experience I was really scared of the horses however I learnt that I am the boss and can control them not the other way around. I am now nearly 20 and looking back I have noticed that all the kids who have ridden and do ride at Collie RDA have come a long way and are getting the same benefits from riding and horses as I do.
It was really hard to start with because of my ADHD and Klinefelter’s Syndrome I couldn’t express my feelings until I started with RDA and began to gain self confidence. I have formed a special bond with the horses and kids at RDA.
I am now training to become a coach which can be difficult at times as I can’t write as quickly as others; however my coach educator Jo is helping me put everything in writing. Over the last few years I have been to other RDA centres and State events such as the Annual State Games where I take part in barrel racing and have come first on ‘Edge’, I have taken part in the mounted fancy dress where Regil and I have dressed up as an ‘Arab’.
I bought ‘Regil’ 3 years ago she is a good looking horse and RDA were planning to sell her to raise funds to help purchase smaller ponies for use in RDA. ‘Regil’ still lives with Jo at RDA collie and still helps young riders every week. She has help me gain confidence in riding independently, when I first started riding her I would only ride with others around. She also helps me emotionally and is great therapy for when I am upset and need to go on a long ride.
I started work experience through RDA by helping Rodney out with his handyman services, which is now my part time job. On the days when I am not working I am Stable manager at RDA which involves telling helpers what jobs need to be done around the stables and paddock such as picking up poo, cleaning feed bins and filling up water buckets. If there is something that needs fixing around the centre I will try and mend otherwise I wait for Rodney to come home and help.
Over the next few years I would like to get to the level of coaching that Jo is at (level II) and one day take over the running of the centre from Jo.
RDA helps kids with movement as the horses help them move their muscles and you can see just how much fun the kids are having. It brings a tear to my eye to see the kids so happy and knowing that they really appreciate RDA being here.
Leon Mills, Trainee Coach, RDA Collie
Leon assisting young RDA Collie rider at State Games