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West Norfolk riding for the disabled to become dementia-friendly

PUBLISHED: 16:10 25 October 2019 | UPDATED: 17:21 25 October 2019

Joyce Walford, from Dove Court Care Home at Wisbech, meets pony Roger at the Magpie Centre Open Day aiming to give dementia patients a chance to meet the horses. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Joyce Walford, from Dove Court Care Home at Wisbech, meets pony Roger at the Magpie Centre Open Day aiming to give dementia patients a chance to meet the horses. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

The west Norfolk riding for the disabled centre will provide riding for people living with dementia.

Jean Spalding, from St Leonards Court at Mundford Residential Dementia Care Home, meets pony Roger at the Magpie Centre Open Day aiming to give dementia patients a chance to meet the horses. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYJean Spalding, from St Leonards Court at Mundford Residential Dementia Care Home, meets pony Roger at the Magpie Centre Open Day aiming to give dementia patients a chance to meet the horses. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Horses and ponies at the Magpie Centre at Wallington Hall provides therapy to more than 100 disabled children and adults.

The charity, off the A10 between Downham Market and King's Lynn, held an open day on Friday, October 25 for people living with dementia with the aim of setting up riding for them.

More than 30 people attended the event, which showcased the centre's riding horses and carriages, allowing people to touch the horses and see what is on offer.

Rosie O'Grady, chairwoman at the Magpie Centre, said: "We invited care homes from Wisbech, King's Lynn and Downham Market and the Freebridge housing trust to come to the open day.

Len Quick, from St Leonards Court at Mundford Residential Dementia Care Home, meets Jupiter at the Magpie Centre Open Day aiming to give dementia patients a chance to meet the horses. With them are Natalie Dade, yard manager, and Karen Black, right, assistant manager. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYLen Quick, from St Leonards Court at Mundford Residential Dementia Care Home, meets Jupiter at the Magpie Centre Open Day aiming to give dementia patients a chance to meet the horses. With them are Natalie Dade, yard manager, and Karen Black, right, assistant manager. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

"We want people living with dementia to come along with their carers and see the horses.

"Nationally the Riding for the Disabled Association are keen on it and some groups have already started sessions called 'tea with a pony,' which we thought was a good idea to do ourselves."

Volunteers at the centre are backing the move, with some personally affected by dementia.

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Karen Black, assistant manager, said: "My mum has dementia and doesn't get to go out much but for her to be here and sit and watch the horses is like therapy.

"The memories it brings back for her, she won't know what she had for lunch but will be able to recall memories of being with horses.

"Dementia is a horrible disease but anything that keeps the brain going should have all the more for it."

More than 80 volunteers help with the running of the Magpie centre, which is funded by grants, riders donations and fundraising activities.

Visitors from local care homes at the Magpie Centre Open Day aiming to give dementia patients a chance to meet the horses. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYVisitors from local care homes at the Magpie Centre Open Day aiming to give dementia patients a chance to meet the horses. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Volunteer Helen Hancox said: "On the age front, these people have worked in fields with horses and used to take their children horse riding so doing something like this evokes memories for them.

"My mum had dementia and she would have absolutely loved this. She used to take us on horse riding holidays.

"They're (people attending the event) mesmerised by the horses and they're not thinking about anything else, it's about sparking those memories.

"There's so much inside them they can't get out but if this helps them escape it can only be a good thing."

Seasonal driving lessons for people living with dementia will take place on a Friday from 12pm to 3pm.

The Magpie Centre at Wallington is looking for volunteers to help with major fundraising events.

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