• Stuart Benson

‘Dream gift’ for a ‘dream community member’

Wakefield residents raise over $4K to buy Jill Rick a horse

Jill Rick needs no introduction in Wakefield.


If you’ve taken in a Theatre Wakefield production or attended one of the many fundraising events, like the annual Angels Share concert where she has raised thousands selling raffle tickets, you’ve experienced Rick’s infectious charm.


With Rick’s 60th birthday approaching on Jan. 23, her closest friends began wondering what to give someone who has given so much to the community for nearly three decades.


Horsing around: Beloved Wakefield resident Jill Rick (centre) was presented with a giant novelty cheque for $4,000 to help buy her a horse for her 60th birthday, alongside her daughter Emma Hyde. Stuart Benson photo
Horsing around: Beloved Wakefield resident Jill Rick (centre) was presented with a giant novelty cheque for $4,000 to help buy her a horse for her 60th birthday, alongside her daughter Emma Hyde. Stuart Benson photo

“Jill is one of those people who brings joy and laughter to whoever happens to be around her,” Scott Herbert-Daly told the Low Down. “If you are around her, it's because you are also at an event that benefits the community. Jill is what is right and wondrous in this world.”

The idea to buy Rick a horse began after Rick had mentioned to her friend, Dawna Wightman, that she wanted to get a horse but couldn’t afford one — this in spite of the fact that Rick spent her mornings volunteering with a local stable, helping to clean stalls and walk horses. Rick had also mentioned to the stable’s owner her dream of owning her own horse and in return, he offered her free board and hay if she ever got one.

“So every week, Jill has been talking about … going to horse shows and looking for a horse,” Wightman said. “...I knew somehow I was going to get the money to help Jill get a horse.”


Wightman made calls to locals asking who would be willing to contribute to her informal fundraiser. Enthusiasm by locals led to a GoFundMe campaign set up by Rita Jain, which, by Jan. 20 had raised $3,700.


Once the money had been raised, all that remained was to spring the surprise on Rick.


Anyone who knows Rick knows the best way to get her to come to something is to tell her there is a performance to be had.


Rick arrived at the parking lot behind Kaffé 1870 on Jan. 23, believing she would be giving a small impromptu performance with her bandmate, Rob McCart. Instead, she was serenaded by a crowd of 20 or so and presented with a novelty cheque for $4,000 by Anne Winship.


“We know this has been a dream of yours and you have been a dream community member for so long,” Herbert-Daly told Rick, as she was presented with the cheque.


“It's overwhelming and makes one very humble,” Rick told this reporter. “There’s a side of me that’s uncomfortable [taking the money], but they all get mad at me everytime I say that.”


Rick said the gift was truly a surprise, but the generosity isn’t.


“Does it surprise me that a bunch of people get together and raise money for somebody that they love?” Rick said. “That doesn't surprise me. What surprises me is that it's been me.”


Rick said she already has a horse in mind, a percheron in Guelph.


Jain will be keeping the GoFundMe open for another week, now that the need for secrecy is over, and if you would like to donate, click here.