Sandringham Flower Show donates a pony to disabled riders at the Magpie Centre at Wallington Hall, near King’s Lynn

Disabled children and young people have a new pony to ride thanks to the Sandringham Flower Show.

Chico, now nicknamed Charles because of his Royal connections, has joined the stables at the Magpie Centre at Runcton Holme, near King's Lynn.

The five-year-old was bought with �2,500 donation from the flower show, which each year gives thousands to Norfolk charities large and small.

He'll work alongside 17 other animals of all shapes and sizes - from the tiny Exmoor pony Heidi, who is aged 29, to the white stallion Murphy - for the West Norfolk Riding for the Disabled Association.

Jacqui Bate, chair of trustees, said Charles's arrival meant the workload on other ponies would be reduced, while more people would be able to enjoy riding at the Magpie Centre,


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'We are absolutely thrilled, it's a very generous donation,' she said. 'Most of our horses and ponies are on loan to us.

'Most riding for the disabled centres operate from stables or livery yards and they're only open a couple of days a week, we're open Monday to Friday and 12 Saturdays a year.'

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Around 130 riders with varying disabilities use the Magpie Centre, which was set up at Wallington Hall. off the A10 at Runcton Holme, in 1972.

As well as riding, members can try their hand at dressage and carriage driving around the estate, under the supervision of trained instructors and volunteers.

Centre manager Mel Tomlinson said animals were carefully chosen for their temperament and underwent a trial to ensure they were suitablefor working with the disabled. She said Charles looked like he had potential.

'He floats, he's got elevated paces already so we know he's going to make a brilliant dressage pony,' she said. 'He's got a kind nature and a brilliant active walk.'

Dressage is popular with West Norfolk's disabled riders, who train in a purpose-built indoor centre at Wallington Hall and have competed at national level.

King's Lynn-based Aynsley Calvert, 25, has recently won the West Norfolk RDA winter league dressage championship.

'I just love dressage, I've got the passion for it,' he said. 'It's like a team, a partnership.'

Mr Calvert, who keeps his horse Murphy at the Magpie Centre, has been riding from the age of four.

'I'm officially the longest serving male member,' he said. 'I just love riding.'

Hi mother Jan Calvert said: 'I can't tell you the difference coming here has made to Aynsley.'

Jaqui Candy from the flower show committee said it was good to see proceeeds from the event donated to such a good cause, as Charles was put through his paces in the paddock at the centre.

Last year almost �30,000 was donated to local charities and groups by the flower show, which is traditionally held at Sandringham on the last Wednesday in July. This year's event is being held on July 25.

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