The Pat Straughan Award 2023 – Khianna Lucas-Young, Bradbourne RDA

Pat Straughan Winner 2023 Khianna Lucas-Young being presented her award by Barbora Hallam-Skalova at the South-East Regional Conference.

Pat Straughan Winner 2023 Khianna Lucas-Young being presented her award by Barbora Hallam-Skalova at the South-East Regional Conference.


On the 25th of October 2023, the Pat Straughan Award was presented at the South-East Regional Conference. The winner of such a prestigious award this year was Khianna Lucas-Young from Bradbourne RDA.  


7 years ago, aged 7, Khianna was diagnosed with leukemia and began a long course of chemotherapy that ended in August 2018.  Soon after she relapsed which resulted in more chemotherapy and radiotherapy before a bone marrow transplant in February 2019, during which time she was in hospital for five months. 

After her treatment, Khianna’s life returned to a “sort of normal” and she returned to school, but on 1 March 2020 she woke and wasn’t able to walk.   She was rushed to hospital but within a few days she was paralysed from the neck down and completely blind. An MRI resulted in a diagnosis of neuromyelitis optical – inflammation of the spinal cord and optical nerve. Khianna and her nan spent the whole of the first Covid lockdown together at Kings Hospital followed by lengthy rehabilitation at Stoke Mandeville.    

In November 2021 that Khianna started riding at Bradbourne, having never ridden before. At first she was in a wheelchair, and she rode on the lead rein, but she learned the letters of the school almost immediately and, with speakers and volunteers at letters, she was soon riding independently and finding her way around the indoor school. Just 5 months after her first riding lesson, with immense motivation, concentration and love for what she was doing, Khianna competed in her first dressage test in Walk in April 2022 at Felbridge. Her coach walked around the arena with her, and she did an amazing test. Her next test in May was in an arena on her own at Plumpton and it was here that she qualified for the National Championships. However, it was not to be as it was the weekend of the 2022 heatwave and Bradbourne made the difficult decision not to attend.   

Khianna no longer uses a wheelchair, though her mobility is still compromised, and she never regained her eyesight, and in September last year she began to learn to trot. She was utterly determined to compete in a Walk / Trot test for the Regional Qualifier and to continue to challenge herself.   

What is particularly amazing about Khianna is her always positive attitude, her love and appreciation for her RDA pony, Patch, and the way she inspires every single volunteer who has met her.  She is courageous and full of laughter and humour but committed to improve and push herself to achieve. Though she is nervous before competitions she has a determination that is not often seen, especially in someone so young and who has experienced such life changing illness.    

Khianna qualified at the Regional Dressage event this May at Hickstead and many were in tears. She went on to compete at Hartpury, riding an incredible test and finishing 1st in her Walk & Trot Class.  What an incredible achievement and what a testament to her courage, warmth and beautiful nature. 

The award was presented by Director of Business Improvement at RDAUK, Barbora Hallam Skalova. Barbora said: “I felt truly privileged to be asked to present Khianna with her award. It’s moments like these that remind me of the incredible joy and impact that comes with working for RDA. It’s not just a job; it’s a privilege to be part of such a meaningful community. 

Citation written by Khianna’s Coach, Jenna Leight, SE Region Coach 

Adapted by Pauline Roestenburg, SE Region Chair 

Page Last Updated: November 15, 2023