Avon Riding Centre for the Disabled
When Avon Riding Centre's land was under threat, much more was at risk - for the hundreds of people with complex special needs who use the centre, the therapeutic benefits they experience through horse-riding was at stake.
Caroline Georghiou has been visiting Avon Riding Centre for the Disabled (ARC) in Bristol since 2009. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, her riding sessions at the centre exercise her memory, eyesight and coordination.
"It's different each week, depending how I feel and what the weather's like. Progress externally may seem slow to others, but I know I would decline with out the weekly sessions. I've seen improvement in my fitness, core stability, balance and muscle tone. It stimulates me neurologically; retraining the pathways in the brain that have been damaged."
"It's not just the buildings, it's the whole concept. Without the money, we would not be here on this scale."
Tania Honey, Chief Executive, Avon Riding Centre
Late last year, ARC was confronted with a threat to the continuation of its crucial work. Without warning, the centre learned that nearly two thirds of its 100 acre site, much of which it had rented for over 30 years, was to be auctioned on the open market - with the very real risk of it going to the highest bidder.
"With that land would have been lost all that relies on it," says ARC's chief executive Tania Honey. "All the achievements of the past three decades and all future ambitions would have been undermined in a matter of months."
Race against time
The charity convinced the owners to give them the chance to buy the land before it was put on the open market, but they only had eight weeks to do so. The race was now on to find the money to save the centre.
"Other banks couldn't get the money to us in time," says Tania Honey. "But loans from Triodos, along with Bristol City Council and The Riding for the Disabled Association meant we met the deadline and secured the land. It's not just the buildings, it's the whole concept. Without the money, we would not be here on this scale."
The battle may be won, but the war isn't over yet. ARC plans a fundraising push from this autumn to raise money to repay their borrowing and carry out vital repairs, securing the centre's future and good work for years to come.
Avon Riding Centre is a leading charity dedicated to the provision of riding tuition and therapy to adults and children with all kinds of disability. Its purpose built centre is nestled in 100 acres of pasture and woodland on the outskirts of Bristol, offering first class riding tuition on to disabled and able-bodied clients. Working with people living with over 30 different forms of mental and physical special needs, ARC provides 12,000 hours of therapeutic riding each year for 280 clients aged from four to 78. It is supported by more than 180 volunteers who give their time to the centre on a regular basis.
Avon Riding Centre receives no central funding and relies entirely upon the goodwill of the community for its ability to continue providing its services. This autumn they're launching a major fundraising appeal for urgent repairs to the centre needed to meet increased demand for their work. Visit their website to find out how you can support the centre.