By LACHLAN MOORHEAD
AFTER his back surgery, Rick Beeby knew he’d get better.
But for those children and adults living with a disability, the 69-year-old knew theirs was a burden they would be carrying for the rest of their lives.
This moment of understanding led Rick to Riding for the Disabled (RDA) at Doveton’s Myuna Farm, where he has volunteered for more than a decade.
It’s his commitment to RDA that saw Rick, the Doveton committee’s vice-president, awarded the Casey Senior Citizen of Year Award on Australia Day this month.
“I used to drive trucks and I had some surgery done on my back which meant I had to give truck driving away, and I had to re-think what I was going to do for the rest of my life,” he said.
“I think it was the fact that after surgery I was going to get better whereas a lot of people don’t, they have that disability and that’s it.”
Rick’s involvement with the RDA has seen him cover every aspect of the program, including running coaching sessions for riders with disabilities, accompanying riders to competitions, co-ordinating volunteers, and collecting horse feed and repairing fences.
Rick has helped enrich the lives of many kids, including a 10-year-old boy who was unable to walk until he joined RDA.
“He’s a young fella who was not able to sit up straight because of a lack of core strength,” Rick said.
“But he started riding and now he can weight bear and now he can walk.
“At the start he couldn’t even sit up straight.”
While his involvement with RDA has seen Rick immerse himself in studying about the benefits of therapeutic riding, his passion for horses goes way back.
“I sort of grew up in an area where there was a lot of horses, in Hornsby, New South Wales,” he said.
“Then later on I worked as a jackaroo and a station-hand mustering and droving.
“Then my oldest daughter became interested in horses. At one stage I had three children doing pony club.”
Rick’s daughters, Crystal and Mim, and his wife, Robyn, were at the Council Chambers last Tuesday night to watch their dad and husband receive the Australia Day award, an honour he didn’t expect to win but one he was thrilled with.
“It’s always something I’ve loved doing – combining my love of horses with helping people who have disabilities,” Rick said.
Doveton was also recognised a second time at the Casey Australia Day Awards when the Doveton Show was named the Casey Community Event of the Year.
This year’s Doveton Show attracted more than 27,000 visitors, with a variety of activities, displays and entertaining acts made available to the community.
Joining Rick to receive council awards on Australia Day was the Casey Citizen of the Year Cathy Wieckmann, the Casey Young Citizen of the Year Oliver Thomson, the Casey Sportsperson of the Year Chandlar Felton, and the Casey Non-resident of the Year Brianna Loves.
The Casey Fund-raising Event of the Year Award went to the Halloween Spooktacular Party, while Livvi’s Place Open Day and the Narre Warren Fire Brigade Open Day were given high commendations.