While the new pets therapy annexe for the Bathurst Riding for Disabled Association (RDA) was officially opened on Wednesday, it was an even more special occasion for local branch president Melinda Gavin.
The new $153,522 project funded by the NSW Government was officially opened by Bathurst MP Paul Toole, who also announced that the new pets therapy annexe would be named after Ms Gavin.
It was an emotional moment for her when Mr Toole made the official announcement, as she was overwhelmed with joy.
"I'm just so overwhelmed, I didn't know about this," she said moments after receiving the honour.
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"Thanks to everyone. It's not just me, it's everyone that helps down here, with the leading of the horses to bring the kids along."
She explained that funding has not only helped build the new pets therapy annexe but also upgrade the carpark and shelter.
"Our carpark was getting a little bit small, especially with all our volunteers that come along to help out," she said.
"Funding enabled us to get the car park fixed and a new shelter, because we had an old shelter and its sails kept on ripping.
"The paths have been great. We've got the path almost all the way round for wheelchairs."
Ms Gavin has been involved with the Bathurst RDA for over two decades and she said it's really important for children to come down and interact with the animals on offer at the facility.
"It's really important for all the kids that come down and interact with the animals," she said.
"Animals don't judge you and most people love animals. You can pat them and enjoy them. It's always a positive time for the clients are their children."
For the children that attend the service, Ms Gavin has noticed many positive changes in the way they act.
"With the little kids especially, we teach them to be gentle and how to care for them," she said.
"Some of the children get on the horses, we don't know how they'll go. We put them on and quite a lot of them are relaxed and sit quite well, when they might not in the class room.
"Some of the kids have started to verbalise on the horses.
"There's so many children and adults that have come through our service that have learnt so much."
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