A YOUNG Felinheli woman has real horse sense when it comes to making a difference to the lives of vulnerable people.

Nia Millar, who is 22, has just won a prestigious award for her voluntary work with horses helping disabled people and survivors of domestic abuse.

She has recently received the RDA Young Volunteer of the Year Award 2018 at a glittering RDA Gala ceremony in London hosted by sports presenter Clare Balding and news reader Alastair Stewart.

Horse mad Nia, has been riding since she was a little girl.

She has also been a volunteer for the Riding for the Disabled organisation for many years showing disabled adults and children how to ride.

Her hobby later became integral to her education when she went on to study sports development and fitness at Coleg Menai, and went on to John Moores University in Liverpool.

Nia completed a BA Hons in sport coaching, focusing on 'self perceptions of disabled participants engaging in equine therapy' and then studied for her MSc in Public Health.

Her dissertation was on female domestic abuse survivors' experience of equine therapy.

Nia has recently been involved with an eight week project, working alongside Gorwel, a North Wales organisation, which helps support people who have experienced domestic violence.

"Horses are especially empathic and sensitive to people and they can often mirror human emotions," said Nia.

"For people who have experienced terrible things like domestic abuse, they have often lost confidence in themselves.

"Exposing them to being around horses can be therapeutic and beneficial. It can help them in all sorts of areas of their lives from building confidence to helping with things like problem solving.

"It is not just about teaching people to ride, although many who have never been near a horse go on to be good riders, but it is about giving them an experience, that will help them in their lives and the wider world.

She added: "It is so rewarding to be able to help people and I just love being around the horses. Many of the horses we use are themselves rescue horses.

"I was a bit of a boring student. I never went out on late nights. I'd go to bed early because I wanted to get up in the morning to see the horses!"

Nia was nominated for the award by her neighbour and manager at Gorwel, Gwyneth Williams.

She and her mum Frances were invited to attended the RDA award ceremony last Tuesday, at the Gibson Hall, in the City of London.

Frances said: "I was so proud of Nia. It is quite amazing what she has been doing and she really deserves her award

"Young people don't always get the credit they deserve, so it was wonderful that she won it.

"I'm a very proud proud mum!"

Nia said: "It was amazing in London. We got to meet Clare Balding, Alastair Stewart, the newsreader, and the antiques expert Phillip Serrell. They were all really nice.

"I was a bit nervous, it was a huge event, with lots of people, but it was an amazing night!"