JOY: Richard Nichols says Riding for the Disabled has changed his life.VOLUNTEERING is often something many people don’t think of getting into but Richard Nichols demonstrates that once you start it’s hard to stop.
Mr Nichols said he started volunteering at Riding for the Disabled when he found himself with time on his hands after self-retirement.
The Medowie resident started about three years ago and has never looked back.
‘‘I probably work five days a week there, sometimes 38 hours,’’ he said.
‘‘It becomes infectious.’’
Mr Nichols chose Riding for the Disabled because he thought it was a ‘‘great cause’’.
He started out helping in the stables, feeding the horses and grooming while helping out every Monday with lessons.
He is now employed as the main maintenance worker at the site and secretary Carol Brown said Mr Nichols was a cherished volunteer.
‘‘He’s only been with us a few years but he’s certainly made his presence felt at the centre,’’ she said.
‘‘He has great knowledge on how to do things and looks after a lot of the maintenance.
‘‘He’s a multi-skilled worker and he’s invaluable to us.’’
Mr Nichols’s wife Jenny also volunteers at the centre and is organising the development of a sensory garden.
The garden will incorporate different activities for children to engage in while riding on their horse.
Different parts of the garden will have different themes and use the four senses of touch, smell, sight and hearing to engage with the children.
Mr Nichols said it would give the children ‘‘something a bit different’’ to enjoy.
‘‘It’s a really great place to work, lovely atmosphere, and it has great job satisfaction,’’ he said.
‘‘To see the children enjoying it is very rewarding.
‘‘When you see some of them on a horse for the first time they have smiles from ear to ear.’’
Mr Nichols’s handyman qualities stem from his time as a boilermaker at BHP.
Since his retirement, the 59-year-old has dedicated much of his time to helping Riding for the Disabled.
Among other things, he has done carpentry, metal fixing, mowing, fencing and has even cleaned up after the horses.
‘‘It sucks you in, it’s such a good cause,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ll be there for a long time yet.
‘‘We’re always looking for more people to come in and help with the maintenance side of things, though.’’
Riding for the Disabled is a charity group that receives no state or federal funding.
It garners most of its running costs through fund-raising.
Mr Nichols said he would welcome anyone who wanted to help out and asked interested people to contact him on 49829177.