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Teenage ‘dragons’ take on 200-mile ride to give something back

A 17-year-old rider will be trekking from north to south Wales to raise money for charity and “give something back” to the NHS following the Covid-19 outbreak.

Seren Parry will be following in the footsteps of her mother Sharon and her friend Erica Evans, who undertook the same journey 18 years ago.

Seren, a first-year A-level student, would more usually be eventing her partner of five years, 19-year-old Irish sport horse Gerry, as well as her 14-year-old “project horse” Stripe, whom she had had for six months.

“If it wasn’t for Coronavirus, I would have been competing Gerry at BE100 trying to qualify for the grassroots finals at Badminton and getting Stripe ready for her first BE80s,” Seren said.

“I am very lucky that I haven’t been personally affected by the pandemic, I am sitting here off school with nothing to do and I wanted to do what I could to help. I came up with this idea as it was something I could still do with social distancing regulations and raise money for charity at the same time.”

Seren plans to take her younger horse Stripe on the 11-day journey, where she will be joined by her 14-year-old friend Emily Jones, who will ride her horses Jack or Equador. They plan to start their trip on 21 August, ending their ride on the beach in Tenby two days before they need to go back to school.

Although Seren has been able to benefit from her mother’s previous experience of the trip, which has been a great help while planning their route, the pandemic has posed some additional challenges.

“Erica had saved all of their maps, so we will be using those, although we have made some changes where roads have become busier or train tracks have been added,” she said. “The only thing we’re finding a bit difficult is where we will stay. They stayed at pubs and B&Bs but they aren’t currently open, nor are campsites, so we’re finding people aren’t replying to emails at the moment.”

She said that although the current situation made planning more difficult, she was hoping people might be able to come forward with accommodation, a stable, or a “corner of a field” where they could pitch a tent.

“We’re also looking into hiring a caravan as my mum and Emily’s will be following us in support ehicles, making sure we have water for the horses and back up if there are any problems — the horses’ welfare will be put first over everything,” she added.

“Stripe will be following a strict fitness plan so she will be as prepared for this as best she can be. Also, she will have regular physio beforehand and at the start of each day she will have a health check, which will also be done at lunch time and at night to make sure she is in the best health possible to continue.”

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Seren and Emily will be raising funds for three beneficiaries, NHS Charities Together, local hospice St Kentigerns, which cared for her grandfather and whose shops she sometimes volunteers in, and the Britsh Horse Society

As well as being sponsored for the ride, they are hoping to raise additional funds by inviting people to pay a small fee to join them for legs of the journey.

More information about Seren’s trek can be found on her Facebook page, and donations can be made on her JustGiving page.

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