New Year’s honour for Coleraine RDA star

Louise and her mum, Gwen, meeting HRH the Princess Royal at the RDA  conference last year
Louise and her mum, Gwen, meeting HRH the Princess Royal at the RDA conference last year

Riding for the Disabled Northern Ireland was delighted to see that one of their rising stars was to be awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours list.

The BEM was re-launched in 2012 and rewards a sustained, local contribution or innovative, high-impact work and Louise Greer of Coleraine RDA group has certainly fulfilled those criteria.

Commenting on the award, Louise said: “I was over the moon when I found out that I had been awarded a BEM for my work with the RDA and Meningitis UK.

“At just 17 I am the youngest of this year’s Northern Irish recipients. I lost my legs and part of my left arm to meningitis when I was two and a half. I have been a rider with the Coleraine branch of the RDA for over 10 years, often representing RDA Coleraine at regional championships.”

Louise first took part at the RDA National Championships at Hartpury in 2008 as an eleven year old; she has been placed in the top ten riders every year since, including this year where she was placed second in her class.

In 2011 her talent was spotted and she now trains regularly with the Irish Paralympic Fast track squad. This involves a five hour journey with her horse to Abbottstown or Spruce Lodge in Co Wicklow once a month, where team trainer Donnie McNamara puts them through their paces.

Considerable cost is involved in these sessions, as in all equestrian sports, as squad members have to look after their own travel, accommodation and other requirements.

Louise’s dedication to RDA locally and regionally has been a true credit to her. However, the BEM is also awarded to her in recognition of her other role.

She added: “I am also working with meningitis UK to help promote awareness of the illness and helping people who have experienced it to overcome boundaries.”

Everyone at RDA would like to congratulate Louise on her New Year’s Honour and wish her every success for qualification for Rio 2016 and beyond- well done Louise.