Horse-loving actor Martin Clunes marked the start of his tenure as patron of the Fortune Centre of Riding Therapy (FCRT) by taking part in a vaulting session and demo lesson with William Fox-Pitt last week (27 February).

The pair joined FCRT students for the vaulting session, giving them an insight into the work of the centre in helping develop people’s independence and life skills through riding.

Chatting to FCRT students

Martin Clunes chatting to FCRT students after the vaulting session

The new patron said that his nerves concerning his new role were “quickly dispelled by the enthusiasm of the students”.

“I had my first experience of a vaulting session, guided with great confidence by the young people who use this technique as a core tool in their learning through horses,” Martin told H&H. “It’s really addictive and I’m looking forward to my next go — it seems there is always a next level of attainment to keep you hooked.”

Retiring patron Lady Howard de Walden stepped down after 19 years in the role and was thanked with a special cake, iced with the FCRT logo.

Lady Howard de Walden retires from 19 years as FRCT patron

Retiring patron Lady Howard de Walden hands over the badge of honour to Martin Clunes

“I am really proud to be patron,” Martin added. “I promise to do the job to the best of my ability.”

The FCRT open day will be held on 19 June.

Don’t miss this week’s issue of H&H – guest edited by William Fox-Pitt, out Thursday 6 March.