Members of a Surrey Pony Club could have nowhere to hold rallies and shows next summer after the field they have rented for more than 20 years has been put up for sale — for £480,000.
The Mid Surrey branch should be celebrating its 80th anniversary next year, but the club could face closure if it can’t find almost £500,000 to buy the field on Hurst Road, Walton-on-the-Hill, before the lease runs out next April.
Sabina de Gaston-Cooper, who is leading the fund-raising campaign, said: “The owner has been extremely kind to let us use the field all this time, but if we don’t raise the money, this could be the end for us.
“If the fund-raising effort fails and we have to leave all this behind, we will continue to do our very best, but appropriate space within the M25 is limited. How can we walk away from all that we have built and achieved?”
The 24-acre field has a cross-country course and a large barn and district commissioner Gina Kitchener has worked for the past 23 years to transform the field for the 200 members.
“It’s not just a field,” added Mrs de Gaston-Cooper. “The Pony Club plays a huge part in our local community and it would be a travesty to lose what we have all strived so hard to build up.”
Estate agent Peter Kennedy, of Kennedys-Ipa in Surrey, is marketing the field.
He told H&H: “The seller has championed the Pony Club for 20 years and I’m sure he would be delighted if they could find the money to buy it.”
Pony Club chief executive Judy Edwards said: “We are sympathetic to the cause and are offering advice, but as all our branches are autonomous, the actual raising of funds is the responsibility of the Mid Surrey.”
The branch organised an emergency appeal meeting on 16 April at Reigate and Banstead Town Hall.
“The meeting was very well attended. It was decided that if 150 families aim to raise £2,500 each over a year we’d be well on our way, but we need as much help as we can get,” added Mrs de Gaston Cooper.
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (29 April, ’10)