Riding group pays tribute to founder Harry

support: The riding centre provides opportunities for disabled children and adults.
support: The riding centre provides opportunities for disabled children and adults.
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Members of a horse riding centre for disabled people have paid tribute to the man who helped get the group up and running.

Snydale Riding for the Disabled Association was founded in 2014 and provides a place for disabled adults and children to take part in riding lessons, therapy sessions and other equestrian-based activities.

The charity was the brainchild of children’s services worker Karen Bullock.

But the 50-year-old said she could not have got the centre off the ground, without the help of local farmer Harry Birdsall, who died aged 95 in January.

Mrs Bullock said: “Harry was a well-known businessman and had converted one of the barns at his farm, Commonside Farm, into a big indoor arena.

“I approached him and his son with my proposal. I wanted to provide a riding facility that disabled people could access all year around to support children, adults and their families.

“They were more than happy to get on board to make my dream come true, by letting me use the barn.

“With his wealth of knowledge and experience, Mr Birdsall helped to get the business established and was proud of helping his community by providing life-changing opportunities.”

In the last three years, the riding centre, at Old Snydale, has grown to include six horses and ponies and ten volunteers.

More than 40 riders, from aged four upwards, with mental health conditions, physical disabilities and autism, attend weekly sessions every Tuesday and Thursday evening.

The charity helps them to improve their health and wellbeing and develop communication skills.

Mrs Bullock said the group is also in the process of launching a new carriage driving session each Wednesday for those unable to ride the horses.

And the centre now includes a classroom for arts and crafts and the teaching of all things equestrian.

The association has also received a £600 donation from money raised at Mr Birdsall’s funeral.

Mrs Bullock said: “The money collected in memory of Mr Birdsall has been gratefully received and will continue to help run our non-profit charity group.

“We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated. It will help to make a huge difference to the local community and it would have made him very proud.

“Mr Birdsall was active right up to the end and involved in everything to do with the running of the farm.

“We are sad that he never got to see our new expansion of us being able to offer carriage driving sessions to the less able and wheelchair users.

“He was a true gentleman and is dearly missed by us all.

“His family have been very supportive of the future of our charity, which really does mean a lot.”