For almost 30 years, Gwen Abikhair has been helping people with disabilities hold their heads a little higher.
Gwen is president of the Albury branch of Riding for the Disabled, a voluntary organisation devoted to giving riding lessons to those who wouldn’t normally receive them.
'Riding is very therapeutic for disabled people—it stimulates all the muscles in the back—and it's also very social', Gwen says. 'In particular, it gives people in wheelchairs the chance to be higher than the rest of us.
A horse lover all her life, Gwen started voluntary work with Riding for the Disabled 28 years ago. At the time the association had just one horse—today it has 12 and its volunteers teach about 80 riders each week.
The president of the branch for the past 20 years, Gwen says her greatest achievement has been helping raise the funds to pay for a cover over the riding arena. It took 15 years to obtain the $70,000 required, but the result, she says, 'is magic'.
The OAM was a complete surprise, Gwen says. 'You really don't do these things for the accolades. But I was ever so humbled by it—to think that someone would nominate me for doing something that I love so much.'