Following the closure of Suzanne’s Riding School in Harrow last weekend, a group of its most committed supporters are proposing the set up of a new equestrian centre.
The Harrow Riding Action Group is a committee led by Anne Agapiou, who was a freelance teacher at Suzanne’s. The group has a huge amount of support in the area, and its aims are clear.
Ms Agapiou explains: “Our view is that there has been a tradition of riding on the greenbelt site for 40 years. There are so many people in the area who enjoy riding — for some it’s what keeps them going.”
The group hopes to establish an equestrian centre on the council-owned 400-acre greenbelt site, but acknowledges that it could be a long struggle.
Supporters are currently working to achieve council support for an application to Sport England for funding to help establish the new centre. The application needs the council to agree to the greenbelt site being used for this purpose. The council’s response so far has been positive, and a meeting detailing the plans is expected to go ahead after Easter.
The group is also optimistic that they may be able to work with the developers of the land on which Suzanne’s stood. Ms Agapiou expressed the opinion that it was unlikely that the entire 40-acre site would be developed into property.
“We are hoping that we may be able to work with the developer,” she continues. “It would make sense, as co-operation would be a great way of taking full advantage of the fantastic surroundings.”
The increased pressures on riding schools in the UK, both financial and otherwise, combined with the recent closure of Suzanne’s means that any new establishment must be aware of the difficulties in maintaining a financially viable scheme. But the Action Group is upbeat about its prospects.
“We have had an enormous amount of support from all directions: riders, teachers, local riding schools and several equestrian celebrities. We would be starting off in the best possible way, as we have a huge existing client base and enormous amounts of enthusiasm.”
Suzanne’s was started by Suzanne Marczak in 1939 and grew over the years to cement its reputation as one of the UK’s leading riding establishments. The Marczaks sold the centre to a building contractor earlier this year following increased industry pressures.
To show your support for the Harrow Riding Action Group or to make a donation to their cause, visit: www.harrowriding.com