Riding through illness

172. Meryl Hanmer

A 20 year old student from Bridgend, South Wales battled her own health difficulties and learnt sign language in order to be able to teach children with disabilities to ride horses.

10 Downing Street

Horse enthusiast, Meryl Hanmer started volunteering at just 12 years old and hasn’t let an operation to remove three brain tumours in 2009 and being confined to a wheelchair for the first seven months of this year stop her regularly volunteering at the Llangeinor Hunt Pony Club.

Meryl is a qualified Riding and Road Safety Trainer and a UK Coaching Certificate Level 2 Equestrian Trainer and believes passionately that every child should have the opportunity to learn to ride, regardless of their abilities. She has learnt sign language in order to teach children with hearing difficulties and her enthusiasm has enabled both children and adults to complete the necessary national tests to ensure they are able to ride safely on busy roads.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Meryl’s enthusiasm for her sport and passion for helping others has enabled children in South Wales to learn new skills and experience the joy of horse riding. Meryl has battled her own health problems to continue to volunteer at the Pony Club in Llangeinor and even learnt sign language so she could teach young people with hearing difficulties. Meryl’s dedication makes her a very worthy recipient of a Point of Light award.”

Meryl said:

“I was absolutely delighted to learn that not only had I been awarded a Point of Light award but that this is the first time that it has been given for voluntary work within the equestrian industry. Although I am only 20 years old I have been involved with voluntary work for very nearly half of my life. Helping others is most definitely a win-win situation for both sides. Voluntary work is immensely rewarding and it has also enriched my life enormously by providing me with new and transferable life skills that I have also been able to put towards gaining nationally recognised qualifications. I would most certainly encourage young people to become involved in voluntary work and it is wonderful that Mr Cameron recognises the value that young volunteers can bring to their communities. This is a very proud moment for me and and I feel very honoured that my time and efforts have been recognised with this award from the Prime Minister. Thank you.”

Katy Downing, Youth Coordinator for Riding for the Disabled Association said:

“Meryl is a very committed, dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer, she has been a stand out candidate on the Young Equestrian Leaders award and now a fantastic role model to other young candidates. We are very proud of her receiving this award.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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