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Riding for the disabled centre dealing with financial difficulties

PUBLISHED: 12:18 26 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:18 26 May 2020

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

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

Archant

A Norfolk riding for the disabled centre is appealing to the public for help after dealing with “financial difficulties” due to lockdown.

Len Quick, from St Leonards Court at Mundford Residential Dementia Care Home, met Jupiter at the Magpie Centre Open Day last year 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, met Jupiter at the Magpie Centre Open Day last year 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

The West Norfolk Riding for the Disabled Association based at the Magpie Centre at Wallington Hall, has said it has been hit hard as a result of cancelled lessons and fundraising events.

The centre, near Downham Market, provides more than 100 riding and carriage driving lessons a week to people with physical and learning disabilities.

But lessons were stopped in March because of lockdown measures, which the charity said had hit it hard as one-third of its £110,000 annual income relied on rider donations.

All the staff, except yard manager Natalie Dade, have been furloughed, and the charity needs help in paying for horse food, shoeing, veterinary care, insurance and maintenance bills.

The centre’s yard manager and a team of volunteers are currently caring for 14 horses and ponies, which are said to be “well and happy”.

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An initiative called ‘Tea With a Pony’, which aimed to provide sessions for people living with dementia and their carers to interacts with ponies and learn about tack and grooming equipment, was due to start this month but has been postponed.

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The idea was a result of an event organised last October by staff volunteers, which demonstrated carriage riding to more than 12 visitors and their carers.

People living with dementia had the chance to meet and greet the ponies and watch a demonstration of the centre’s specially-commissioned wheelchair-accessible carriage.

Despite the current situation, the centre said it would “get through this” and asked for donations for its latest project.

It is planning to create a sensory garden and a Friends of Magpie Centre Arch as a tribute to people who visit and support them during “these unprecedented times”.

The arch will be decorated with horseshoes, each with its own plaque.

The centre is asking for a minimum donation of £10 from those who want to give, with donors getting a horseshoe and engraved name plaque displayed on the arch.

To help, contact Jan at magpieccfcraft@outlook.com with payment and name details for the plaque.

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