A riding school on the Isle of Dogs in London has defied a downward trend by receiving substantial funding to upgrade its facilities – including £600,000 from Sport England.
When work finishes in August, the British Horse Society-approved Newham riding school will officially become the Docklands Equestrian Centre, offering BHS Stage One courses and hosting competitions.
The school is a charity, and founder Linda Greaves, who has received an MBE for her work, has taught for 35 years.
It has outdoor and indoor arenas with seating for 275 and an American-style barn for the school’s 20 horses and ponies. The premises were built using funds raised by the charity, and several grants – most notably £1.1m from the London Docklands Development Committee. Funding has also come from the London Borough of Newham, Learning Skills and Royal Docks Trust, and from individuals and local firms.
“It was always our intention to offer the best to our community,” says Linda. “These days you need to offer good facilities. We have a new restaurant, offices, a first-aid room and four units for working pupils. We’ve also enlarged the lorry park and installed CCTV.”
Sport England approved the grant because of the school’s “excellent track record for community/ disability/sports development provision”.
“In a deprived, multi-racial area, the development is allowing more people to ride,” says a spokesman.
BHS inspector Alan Bingle says: “When you consider the location – in the middle of a substantial shopping and industrial centre – Miss Greaves is doing a very good job and teaching to a high level. They have received a lot of money but it has been well spent and well directed.”
The centre is to host the National Hackney Championships in October.