A charity founded more than 50 years ago to help disabled riders is appealing for support to help secure its future as the land it occupies is to be sold.
The Margaret Haes Riding Centre in Holcombe, Bury, has been given until 31 March to raise £425,000 to buy the site, before it goes on the open market. The charity was founded by Margaret Haes, who saw the benefits of riding for people with disabilities, and today the centre hosts160 disabled and able-bodied riders.
Debra Batchelor, who sits on the charity’s management committee, told H&H that after Margaret died in 2008, her estate was split and the riding centre was eventually sold to its present owner, from whom the charity rents the land. She said the charity could potentially continue to lease the land if it is sold, but wants to secure its future by buying it.
“We want some certainty that if we invest in the site, we’ll actually be around to enjoy it. Any lease would be for a short period, you have the question of rent reviews, breaks in leases, and you wonder what the rent might be in a few years’ time,” she said.
“As a charity, when applying for any grants or public funding from, say, Sport England, organisations want the peace of mind that you’re going to be there for at least seven years with no breaks in your lease – plus a lease restricts us on what we do with the buildings.”
The charity, which has 15 horses and ponies, has included the buying price, stamp duty, fees, plus a “little bit extra for the unknown” into the £425,000 fundraising goal. Donations can be made at the the centre’s Crowdfunding page here.
“We’re a relatively small charity, which is why this is such a big challenge. We benefit all sorts of people in addition to our riders; we offer supported volunteer placements for young people with additional needs, placements for students, we have apprentices, so we try our best to spread our reach to all parts of the community,” she said.
“If we owned the land we believe we could offer even more. We would like to create an education room in the future and offer professional courses with our British Horse Society-accredited coaches.”
Debra said the fundraising target is a “big ask” but that the charity is “very determined” and has taken inspiration from London-based charity Park Lane Stables, which raised £1m to buy its home when the centre’s lease was not renewed.
“When we first looked at this we thought ‘No way we can achieve this’, but Park Lane gave us a little bit more hope, they managed to achieve it but it was a long journey. We’re hopeful that success could be repeated,” she said.
“To raise the money would be wonderful, because we know the impact the centre has on our riders, their families and their carers. We can’t thank people enough for any donations, everything counts.”
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