Riding for disabled centre gets £180k boost from National Lottery

RDA carriage driver Erica with carriage driving instructor Ann Sim. Foreground: Trustee Rosie O’Grady, and Heidi Haxeltine.

RDA carriage driver Erica with RDA carriage driving instructor Ann Sim, trustee Rosie O’Grady, pony Tonto and Heidi Haxeltine, National Lottery Fund community funding officer. - Credit: Rachel Hurcomb Photography

Volunteers at a Norfolk riding for the disabled centre are once again celebrating a boost in funding this year after being awarded £180,000 by the National Lottery Community Fund.

The West Norfolk Riding for the Disabled Association (WNRDA) based at the Magpie Centre at Wallington Hall, near Downham Market, celebrated the launch of the grant on Tuesday, November 9, which will be delivered in quarterly instalment over the next three years.

The charity said it was a "red-letter day" when trustees, volunteers and members of the local community welcomed Heidi Haxeltine, National Lottery Fund Community funding officer for the area, to officially celebrate the launch.

Trustee Alison Spencer with west Norfolk mayor Harry Humphrey, and mayoress Brenda Humphrey, with pony Rye.

Trustee Alison Spencer with west Norfolk mayor Harry Humphrey, mayoress Brenda Humphrey, and pony Rye. - Credit: Rachel Hurcomb Photography

The grant will help develop and expand new activities at the centre, including equine assisted learning therapy, which benefits people living with mental health challenges, training for a new instructor, support for Tea With a Pony sessions and a new website.

Colin Perriss, chairman of WNRDA, and some trustees welcomed west Norfolk mayor Harry Humphrey, mayoress Brenda Humphrey, former mayor Geoff Hipperson and former mayoress Rose Hipperson, James Bagge, former High Sheriff of Norfolk, and representatives from the Parkinson’s Society, and Downham Market Dementia group.

Ms Haxeltine said: "This is the first NLF project I’ve been able to visit since the start of the pandemic, so it’s been exciting to see the Magpie Centre’s activities, meet the people involved and see at first hand the difference the centre’s activities make to the community."

RDA carriage driver Erica guides Tonto through a course of cones, with RDA carriage driving instructor Ann Sim.

RDA carriage driver Erica guides Tonto through a course of cones, with RDA carriage driving instructor Ann Sim. - Credit: Rachel Hurcomb Photography

The National Lottery Community Fund posted on its website about the project, revealing WNRDA will receive £180,000 in funding from April this year to May 2023.

It said: "The funding will be used to deliver riding and carriage driving lessons to people in the local community with a wide spectrum of physical, mental and learning disabilities.

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"Their aim is to give each rider and carriage driver, whatever their ability, the opportunity to take control of their pony within a supportive and structured environment and most importantly to have fun, get active and interact with other like-minded people."

In September, the centre received a grant of £3,700 from the Central England Co-op community fund.

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