Acorn and Squirrels getting top award.

On Wednesday I went to teach at Acorn and Squirrel Rda group which is based in Exeter, Devon. This was the very first Rda group that I Started to teach at.

Every one was very happy because  we were told that our Rda group had been awarded  ‘ The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service’

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation. It is the MBE for volunteer groups.

Any group doing volunteer work that provides a social, economic or environmental service to the local community can be nominated for the award. Each group is assessed on the benefit it brings to the local community and its standing within that community.


Any group of 2 or more people doing volunteering work can be nominated for the award. The majority of the group must be volunteers, and more than half the volunteers must have the right to live in the UK.

To be nominated they should do work that:

  • provides a service and meets a need for people living in the local community
  • is supported, recognised and respected by the local community and the people who benefit from it
  • is run locally

Volunteer groups should have been running for 3 years or more to be nominated.

What the winners get

Winners get a certificate signed by the Queen and a domed glass crystal. Representatives from the group may also be invited to attend a royal garden party.

How the winners are decided

Local assessment panels look at all the nominations and decide which ones to send to the National Award Committee.

The committee makes recommendations to the Cabinet Office, which sends a final list to the Queen for her approval.

Winners are announced on 2 June every year.

Its so nice that think that someone should think enough of us to nominate our group in the first place. Its even more of a privilege to be awarded it.

There was only two volunteer groups winners from Devon, ourselves and the volunteers from St Lukes hospice in Plymouth.

There was only 187 Awards given throughout the UK this year.

I celebrated when I got home with a cup of tea and a custard donut.


My outdoor office!

Today I spent it teaching disabled riders, this morning I was up at Taunton,teaching at the Conquest Centre, I had several riders to teach there, the first ride of the day did some grooming and leading the ponies as there wasn’t enough volunteers to lead ponies in the ride, they learnt several parts of the horse and tack and I gave them some work sheets to take back to school. The rest of the sessions rode as we had enough people to help as the rest of the sessions,with the exception of one other, had single riders. I have a session of adults with learning difficulties doing horse care and they lead a pony in the arena doing the obstacles that the riders have done on the ponies in the previous sessions.  These adults are working towards certificates for their horse care.

After finishing at Conquest, I then travelled to Forde Abbey, which is near to Chard. Here I taught riding sessions for the Chard and district RDA, these riders are the youngest riders of the group, they need a lot of support when riding so as well as having a  leader for the pony, each rider has two side helpers, so we can only ride two at a time, because so many people are needed in each session. There are three sessions each of 1/2hr, we were lucky today as it was dry. We can’t ride if it’s raining because the school is outside.

It’s always lovely at Forde Abbey, today the wisteria on the walls of the house was out in flower and one of them has the most beautiful flowers on that I took a picture of it. 

The other wisteria further on hasn’t got quite such prominent flowers,although it’s still nice.

The school for the riding is situated in a lovely part of the grounds, it has some nice views.


I guess that I’m lucky that this could be classed as my ” office”. One of the perks of doing this teaching voluntary.

After finishing at Chard RDA. I then travelled back down to Exeter to teach at Exeter RDA group which meet at Oakland in Exeter this evening , I was just covering this session as the normal instructor was away. Again these riders need 3 people each as they a profoundly disabled and need a lot of support.  After the riders had ridden, we tucked into some cupcakes which someone had made for us as its “national volunteer week” and wanted to say “thank you ” to everyone that volunteers with the group.  The cupcakes were yummy.   😊

Do you use a door handle?

Today at my first cleaning job the thought struck me as I was walking through a doorway is just how many times people don’t open the door using the handle. Why did this come to mind you may ask, well there was dirty finger prints on the paint above the door handle. The door it’s self was white so the fingerprints were very noticeable,not to mention that doing cleaning this is something I tend to notice.

Then thinking about my other cleaning jobs where there is glass in the doors and a metal strip just below the glass so people can push on to open the door, many times the glass has finger marks on and sometimes even the wood that surrounds the glass and the metal strip. I have often wiped palm prints off the glass.

Why do people do this? Is it because they don’t like the feel of metal, is it because it is cold to the touch?  Is the door handle too low on the door? Or is it just an automatic action with no thought to how the door is being opened at the time.    If the door is shut, a hand has to be placed on the door handle for it to be pushed down for the door to open this can’t be done just pushing on the door.

Why do people put their hands on the glass to push open the door, when the metal strip is there, which is closer to the edge of the door,  I did think that there might have been a worry that the glass might break if pushed on too hard. Or again is it because the metal is cold to the touch. The metal strips seem to be placed on the doors at a height that suits most people, I, myself am small and I manage to use the metal strips and the door handles for that matter without any problem.

What do you think? Next time you go to open a door take a moment to think about how you are going to open the door and think of the person that has the job of cleaning up your finger marks that are noticeable on something other than the handle or metal strip.

When I’m cleaning I always wipe the door handles with a disinfectant so as to kill germs and remove dirt and marks, the glass I clean as there’s nothing worst than seeing greasy marks on it.                So the morel for this thought is to keep cleaners every where happy and on your side is to use door handles and the metal strips on doors, they have been put on doors for a reason so please use them. A little thought goes a long way! 

Glass half full.

At work today I got thinking that although I class myself as having a ” half full glass” in life, I’m very thankful for everything that I have and couldn’t wish for more.

How does one decide that they have a half full or half empty glass, are we born with the decision already decided for us or does it come from our upbringing.

Should it be determined by how much money a person has, the material things owned, or on whether one is in good health and surrounded by the love and affection of loved ones.  

Does it include the world around us, will where we live affect the decision, does having access to the web and other cultures have influence over our final decision and is it possible to change that decision over time.   

I am lucky to live in a village and so have access to the countryside which is beautiful whatever time of the year it is. I am also close to the coast so a walk along the beach with the sand between the toes is a summer evening delight.I’m fortunate to have some good friends, many friendships being made through the work that I do. My work is varied, some of it being voluntary, I work with people and horses and see what wonderful things horse therapy can do.