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Double honour for Unicorn Centre
1:21pm Friday 1st November 2013 in Sport
THE Riding for the Disabled Association’s Unicorn Centre based at Hemlington, near Middlesbrough, is celebrating after receiving two national awards in one night.
TV presenter Clare Balding presented rider Paul Conway with the accolade of Most Improved Participant of the Year at the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) Gala Dinner in London, and then went on to award Tom Miller of Stokesley Veterinary Practice the title of RDA Vet of the Year.
Paul is a 53 year old hemiplegic resulting from a stroke in his 40s. He took up riding at the Unicorn Centre a year ago. Unable to balance without four people to support him he can now ride unaided and has dressage rosettes to prove it.
Centre Manager Claire Pitt said: “We’re very proud of Paul, his hard work, determination and keeness to sing the praises of the centre makes him a very worthy winner. He is improving all the time, and really looking forward to advancing his riding career.”
Miller has been supporting the Unicorn Centre since it opened in 1998, but prior to that he was a partner with Ken Whimster of Miller and Whimster, in Stokesley and kindly provided their services free of charge to the local Gt Ayton & District RDA group from the late 1970s.
At that time there were four or five ponies in the group which then went on to merge in 1998 with the Unicorn Centre.
The Centre was delighted when Miller and Whimster offered to continue to provide their veterinary services to the Centre’s original 12 horses and ponies.
After being open for a year, Pitt noticed that no bills had been received from the vets, and thought that they had been sent to the past chairman of the Gt Ayton Group.
She said: “This was not the case. Tom and Ken had quietly decided to continue donating their services free of charge despite the large increase in horses and the added distance from the practice.
“Today – 15 years on, Tom, who is senior partner in Stokesley Veterinary Practice, still continues to care for our 22 horses, at no cost. He and his team always go out of their way to provide quality and realistic care day or night, as well as down-toearth advice in true Yorkshire fashion!
“Tom asks for no favours from us in return. Without his massively important donation, our vet costs would be considerable, and we are enormously grateful to him for his kindness and generosity.’’
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