Lifelong volunteer for Riding for the Disabled, Di Redfern, was awarded the prestigious Sunday Times SportsWomen of the Year Community Award in recognition of her outstanding work and commitment to getting more disabled people riding.
The award, supported by Sport England, was presented by former England women’s cricket captain and Sport England board member, Clare Connor OBE to celebrate over 40 years of Di’s work.
Now in their 25th year, the awards also recognised other outstanding sportswomen and coaches including Olympic rowing gold medallist Kath Grainger MBE, tennis players Heather Watson and Laura Robson and Jessica Ennis MBE in a year of exceptional sporting achievement.
Di started riding sessions with her friends and four ponies for local disabled children in 1970. Often providing tea and transport for the children and young people, the sessions swelled in popularity at the South Bucks Riding for Disabled stables.
Over 100 children with a range of disabilities and impairments now attend the weekly sessions, which are supported by 50 volunteers led by Di. Two of Di’s most well-known riders are London 2012 Para-equestrian gold medallists, Natasha Baker and Sophie Christiansen, who started riding at the stables.
Di’s commitment to her work has been sustained by seeing how much enjoyment the riders take from the sessions and seeing how their confidence grows.
On winning her award, Di said:
“I am totally overwhelmed to receive the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year Community Award. The joy on the riders’ faces has meant so much to me over the years and this award is the icing on the cake!”
Riding for the Disabled provides therapy, achievement and enjoyment to people with disabilities all over the UK. A network of 500 volunteer groups organise activities such as riding, carriage driving, vaulting and showjumping to up to 28,000 people each year. The RDA received around £300,000 Sport England funding through the British Equestrian Federation over the last four years.
Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis won the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year Award after setting three personal bests and a British record of 6,995 points on her way to gold in London. Olympic gold medallists Katherine Grainger and Jade Jones and Paralympic champion Sarah Storey also won awards.
- Sportswoman of the Year -Jessica Ennis
- Coach of the Year - Jenny Archer
- Young Paralympian of the Year - Ellie Simmonds
- Community Award - Di Redfern
- Paralympian of the Year - Sarah Storey
- Lifetime Achievement Award - Sue Campbell
- Team of the Year - GB team pursuit cyclists - Dani King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell
- The Helen Rollason Award for Inspiration - Claire Lomas
- Young Olympian of the Year - Jade Jones
- Olympian of the Year - Katherine Grainger
- Young Sportswomen of the Year - Laura Robson & Heather Watson
Jenny Archer, who coached David Weir to four gold medals in London, has been voted Coach of the Year while UK Sport chair Baroness Sue Campbell won the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Claire Lomas, a British woman paralysed from the chest down by a horse riding accident who completed the London Marathon in 16 days, won the Helen Rollason Award for Inspiration.