A founder member of the Essex Horse and Pony Society is awaiting trial after being prosecuted for embezzling £48,000 from the Pitsea-based charity more than two years ago.

Brenda Wilks, a one-time trustee of the rehabilitation centre, is set to appear in court at Basildon on 8 December and has already pleaded guilty to the charges brought by Essex police.

Reports suggest that Wilks was drawing a salary while she worked as a trustee, a “voluntary” position. Her husband, Alan, is also alleged to have received money from the charity. Horse & Hound was unable to reach Brenda and Alan Wilks for comment.

The centre, which was set up in 1983 and houses 33 horses and ponies, faces an uncertain financial future.

Stable manager Sam Edwards told Horse & Hound: “The situation is dire — we have no money whatsoever. Work started on a manège, but the money ran out, so we have a base and fencing but no surface. Events are planned for Christmas, but fund-raising is hard at this time of year.”

The charity’s problems were compounded in September when thieves stole 300 of its rugs — many donated — including one off the back of a foal.

Edwards added: “We had just had them cleaned and waterproofed for winter.”

The thieves made off in a stolen van. Police are investigating the robbery.

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (2 December, 04)

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