Avon Riding Centre for the Disabled, an independent charity and one of the largest of the Riding for the Disabled Association’s (RDA)’s centres in the UK, is launching an emergency funding appeal today.
The appeal will support the Avon Riding Centre through this immediate crisis with vital money being used to care for 23 horses and ponies.
The centre operates from a 100-acre estate in Henbury, Bristol (BS10) and the emergency fund appeal will help to support it following the enforced shutdown. It currently faces serious financial hardship and without a vital injection of funds is at risk of permanent closure.
The Centre relies almost entirely on its income from riding, non-mounted therapeutic sessions with horses and Hippotherapy. Activity at the Centre may have stopped, but care for its horses and ponies, including feed, hay and vets bills, has necessarily continued. The emergency fundraising appeal is needed to support the costs of caring for the horses and to enable the Centre to be able to re-open (in a phased manner) when appropriate.
The Centre’s closure has negatively affected not only its beneficiaries (around 200 disabled adults and children), many of whom rely on their weekly RDA sessions for physical therapy, health and wellbeing, but also their families and carers who greatly value the difference that access to the Centre’s specially-trained horses makes to the children and adults in their care. In addition to the Centre’s beneficiaries more than 200 regular volunteers were involved each week at the Centre providing support to the riders. Many of the volunteers are over retirement age and relied on their regular sessions to keep them fit and to maintain mental health via vital social connections.
Prior to the coronavirus closedown, the Centre had embarked on an ambitious development plan to diversify and provide further services at its estate in connection with new partner charities for both the local and the wider communities of Bristol and North Somerset. These plans will be put into effect as soon as Government advice allows, but only if the Centre can achieve its funding appeal target of £150,000.
Charity patron Jonathan Dimbleby said:“Long after COVID-19 becomes a terrible memory, people with disabilities will still need support. Without your help now this wonderful charity which meets that need brilliantly may be forced to close permanently and not just during the lockdown. You can help make the difference between its life and its death. Please do so.”
Donations can be made via the Centre’s Just Giving page details of which can be found on its website www.avonridingcentre.org.uk.