I can’t believe we managed to keep this a secret from her, until the Winner of the Regional Volunteer of the Year was announced at the Regional Conference and the award was presented by Gold medal-winning Paralympian Sophie Christansen!!!

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Here was her nomination;  Sue Turok is an exceptional volunteer.  She began as a side-walker at the SAMBER Group back in 1999 and soon became our Group Instructor.  Nearly a decade ago she become our Group Chairperson as well!  She has stuck with us through good times – and more recently this year when we ran into severe difficulties sourcing ponies and facing potential closure of our premises.  Despite living over in Cowfold, Sue regularly made the 1 hour 15-minute journey into Chobham and was instrumental in sourcing new premises with their large selection of ponies.  She organised the RDA sign-off with RDA staff and then worked closely with another of our volunteers (Alison, a solicitor) and the new Yard Manager to discuss and finalise our new contract.  She travelled up regularly outside of ‘SAMBER hours’ over the Easter holidays to familiarise and train up the new ponies with our toys and equipment and kept the schools up-to-date with our progress.  She always kept a cool, calm head even when everyone else was losing theirs! We firmly believe that without Sue’s dedication, loyalty and hard work our group may have closed this year but with her caring nature, positive attitude and dogged determination and belief in preserving the great work that we do, SAMBER is now successfully settled in our new premises.  We have already held a school fun day, gymkhana and SAMBER Superstar Certificate* presentation in front of parents and teachers (*the curriculum for which was, of course, written by Sue!).   Her wealth of knowledge, sensitivity and patience regarding both children with disabilities and horses makes for a fantastic combination.  On top of all of this she reliably attends the First Aid, Safeguarding, Volunteer and Coach training to keep us up-to-date on how best we can help our children (and visits the children prior to term starting to assess their individual needs) and is always a key member when organising fund-raising events too!  She is always so thoughtful and generous in thanking all our volunteers for their own individual contribution to our Group, but this year (in particular) Sue really deserves her own mention and is definitely our Volunteer of the Year!