THE Duchess of Cornwall has officially opened the Ebony riding centre in Brixton, south London (26 October), which caters for disadvantaged children in one of the city’s poorest areas.

As president of Ebony since 2009, the Duchess has been one of the club’s staunchest supporters.

The opening of the £1.7m riding centre – which includes a 40x20m arena, paddock and eight stables – means that many club members can now walk to their lessons.

Previously, children had to be taken by minibus to riding schools in neighbouring boroughs.

Ebony was founded in 1996 by local resident, Ros Spearing, who says the riding centre is the culmination of a “monumental” effort.

During the Duchess’s visit, she watched a riding display by some of the club’s young members, met staff and presented young riders with rosettes.

The Duchess also unveiled a plaque to commemorate the opening.

Shavae Carter, 13 (pictured, with pony Beau), said members had been practising their jumping leading up to the visit.

“I was quite nervous,” she said, “not about how Beau would be in front of the crowds but because if I messed up it would be embarrassing.”

But the pair had nothing to worry about.

“The demonstration went really well,” said Shavae.

“I wasn’t worried about talking to the Duchess because I met her when she came to visit before – she’s really nice and obviously loves horses.”

Karen Reid, who lives locally and has three children at the club, said it was a great day for the area.

“The whole family has waited so long to hear this news,” she said.

“Ebony has really supported my children, especially my son, through some quite difficult times.”