Wyfold Riding for the Disabled would like to nominate Tom Parkinson as a Young Achiever. Tom is a 12 year old boy who comes to ride every Wednesday. He is a very determined and honest boy with a wonderful sense of humour who adores animals and really loves our horses and they always get a hug from him when he dismounts.
When Tom returned after the summer holidays he had grown so much that, when weighed, it was found that he was too heavy to ride his usual pony, Big Joe. Tom went up to Big Joe and said ‘Joe , I’m afraid I have some bad news for you. I have grown too big to ride you anymore but I will still love you!’ Earlier in the year he had come scecond in a dressage competition at Wellington Riding School. ‘To see Tom achieve this was fantastic’ says his mum, Rachael.
Tom says ‘Riding makes me feel relaxed and very happy and it makes me feel better about myself’. Rachael says ‘It gives me piece of mind that Tom is progressing within a sporting field. Wyfold RDA has been fantastic for him and all involved have been very important for his confidence building and achieving his grades has been very good for him.’
When Tom was six years old he was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome and a year later with ADHD. Tom became very unhappy and found school very difficult and felt that he was good at nothing; his behaviour became challenging and his family were struggling to cope. Tom’s family searched for a solution and found him a place at Beech Lodge School in Hurley which Tom’s mum describes as ‘a lifesaver’. The school diagnosed severe dyslexia, dyspraxia, sensory processing disorder and mood and anxiety disorder – he has to take medication to help him deal with his problems.
Tom also attends a special after-school club called CATSYPP Reading where he learns vital life and social skills. In 2014 this charity was chosen to feature in Gareth Malone’s All Star Choir for Children in Need in which Tom was chosen to represent them. He was filmed making a train journey with a BBC1 Blue Peter presenter and subsequently the charity was overwhelmed with enquiries!
From being a boy that wouldn’t pick up a pencil and wanted to stay under a blanket, Tom is making great progress and is known at school for his motivational speaking and also for helping to encourage other pupils with similar problems. His mum says ‘Tom still finds doing everyday things a struggle and still prefers to be at home and on his own and life can be a roller coaster but we are immensely proud of him and he has progressed and achieved far more than we ever thought he could do.’
Tom really is a Young Achiever.
Gill Rushworth, Wyfold RDA