There are times in life when you know you are in the presence of great leadership. Last Weds was one of those moments when we attended the RDA Awards.
The Leadership Whisperers are avid supporters of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA). Whilst our own work is non-ridden and done on the ground, the RDA was set up as a riding and carriage driving organisation to help people of all ages with disabilities.
The evening was hosted by Clare Balding who held the event together brilliantly showing outstanding leadership in the way she held the awards ceremony, ran a panel interview and led an auction after dinner. All this and in between courses, she managed to find time to chat to people and sign her new book.
We proposed and sponsored the Young Volunteer of the Year award at the RDA Awards ceremony this year. We were on the judging panel and I can honestly say it was a tough job. There were 6 outstanding entries of young people who are going above and beyond to support their local RDA centres and selflessly improve the lives of other people.
One entry stood out and that was the winner Matthew Dalley who is a remarkable young man. As a para rider himself, Matt is not just on the receiving end of the RDA, he has taken an active interest in volunteering in many different ways and promoting the charity through social media at a local, regional and national level.
Matt’s achievements are incredible for any young leader, but made even more so when you consider that he was born with a congenital brain condition, leading to muscle weakness and co-ordination problems, he is autistic, has adhd, some learning difficulties and is a profoundly deaf sign language user.
His citation reads: “He overcomes all these obstacles to become a volunteer with RDA and embodies the slogan ‘It’s what you can do that counts’!”
We first saw Matt at a distance at the National RDA Championships where he was doing a presentation. As he is profoundly deaf, his mum was on the microphone translating and sometimes struggling to keep up with him as he enthusiastically signed about what he was doing for the RDA. After his speech, we saw him rush down the hill and start cheering on riders who were doing their competitions. His horse was unfit to ride that day but instead of staying away from the championships as many would have done, Matt volunteered for four days and provided incredible support to other riders, as well as supporting the communications team and running the social media for the event.
It was truly a privilege to be part of the RDA Awards event. What was wonderful to witness on the night was the way the whole audience value, adore and support Matt. A truly remarkable young man and when we witness young leaders like Matt, we know the future of our world is in safe hands. His mother Glynis also deserves a special mention for the way she supports Matt, translates for him. It was a pleasure to meet them both.
Matthew Dalley and his mum Glynis have shown us that leadership is alive and in action in the world and for that we are very grateful.