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Pony Club members hack Land’s End to John O’Groats distance during lockdown

A Pony Club branch found a way to come together despite the lockdowns by hacking the distance from Land’s End to John O’Groats and raising nearly £2,000 in the process.

Around two thirds of the 69-member York and Ainsty South (YAS) branch combined their efforts to meet the 840-mile target during the Christmas holidays.

The “hackathon” was organised by one of the branch’s older members Ellie McNeil, who compiled all the data from individual riders via a WhatsApp group. Despite having to brave icy roads and some very wet days, the members had exceeded their target by 3 January.

One member, Lyra Verity, rode 80 miles while another member who is new to riding hacked for the first time to contribute to the challenge.

The York and Ainsty South usually hold an annual pleasure ride to raise money for the branch but this year’s event was cancelled because of the pandemic and funds were running low. While sponsorship for the 840-mile challenge was optional, the members surprised their district commissioner Gill Chivers by collecting £1,760 to date.

“I am so proud of the YAS branch members for really getting behind this, the response has certainly brought some cheer to an otherwise not very cheerful time,” Gill said. “It was something that was completely Covid-safe and didn’t involve anyone having to make any special arrangements. I think it satisfied a need.”

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“We need some new show jumps and cross-country jumps, so the funds raised will go a good way towards that,” she added.

Gill said it had been interesting looking through the data people had collected through their apps.

“Quite a lot of the pictures we were sent involved members of the family on a bike or running or walking the dog, so it was used as a multi-tasking exercise and as some motivation for people,” Gill said. “There was one member whose pony had been lame and was just coming back into work. She used it to walk miles on hills to get the pony fit again and said it gave her a purpose because she could track it. It certainly brought everyone together.”

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