‘The only Christmas present any of us wanted’: Park Lane Stables buys Teddington home after rollercoaster year

  • Park Lane Stables has secured “the only Christmas present any of us wanted” in buying its Teddington home.

    The news is a happy ending to a year-long rollercoaster for the charity and means that it is now “fully in control of its own destiny”.

    “The Park Lane site in Teddington has been a stables for over 200 years, and thanks to our amazing supporters it will now stay that way,” said owner Natalie O’Rourke.

    “We’re so grateful to our immediate neighbours and local community for their steadfast support, which has truly sustained us on our journey.

    “Thank you to the incredible team of volunteers and trustees, whose tenacity and optimism means we can continue to share the magic of horses with those who need it.”

    The London-based charity is a Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) and Pony Club centre. It is also a safe place for at-risk young people who can be referred there by schools and local authorities.

    Around a year ago, the charity was told by its then landlord that the lease would not be renewed when it expired in May 2021. Park Lane Stables launched a crowdfunding campaign on New Year’s Eve 2020 to raise £1m to buy the premises and secure its home.

    On 18 February, the high-profile campaign hit its fundraising target to the delight of supporters and those touched by their story.

    But celebrations proved short-lived. Negotiations hit choppy waters as a question mark dangled over whether the charity would be successful in its attempt to buy the property after all.

    The ponies temporarily moved to Manor Farm Stables in Petersham as negotiations continued over the summer.

    In October, the charity took a major step forwards – a price for the site was agreed and funds were with its solicitor to proceed to exchange. The sale completed today (16 December) and the charity has collected the keys to return as “the proud new owners” of its home of 13 years.

    “The legal process proved far more complex than we could have anticipated but we never gave up, and any frustration we may have felt has been swept aside by jubilation,” said a spokesman for the charity.

    “This year is ending with the only Christmas present any of us wanted.”

    Before the ponies return, the site will be refurbished “in keeping with its proud 200-year history as an urban stables”. The site has been home to horses for hundreds of years, serving as Teddington Fire Station in the 1800s, when fire engines were horse drawn, to the charity in its current form.

    The refurbishment will include a wall of bricks, each sponsored by and bearing the name of a supporter. The charity will continue to operate from its temporary Richmond home, until it returns to Teddington.

    RDA UK chief executive Ed Bracher said: “We are delighted that RDA can return to Park Lane in Teddington, a venue that has come to mean so much to so many people – and inspired such an outpouring of support and generosity from the local community and beyond. We are grateful to Manor Farm for taking in the group in their hour of need and ensuring that RDA activities could continue.”

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