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Two-year-old rider turns to cycling to raise vital funds

At two and a half years old, Verity Seignot is already an experienced fundraiser, helping the Riding for the Disabled Association and other charities through her adventures with her Shetland Super Noodles.

This time “Ety” is taking on a different riding challenge, learning to pedal her new bicycle to raise money to help her own animals through lockdown.

Verity’s mother Caroline runs the Pony Pals Therapy team, visiting care homes, hospices and prisons with ponies and small animals, but the pandemic caused their income to come to an abrupt halt.

“We had to stop working in early March because care homes were among the first venues to close their doors to visitors to protect their vulnerable residents,” Caroline said. “As I’m self-employed, we were forced to turn to fundraising to ensure we could keep as many of the animals as possible.”

“Unfortunately we had to sell our pony Foxy because of the long-term running costs and four of the guinea pigs also went, but we have diversified and got some chickens!” added Caroline, who had exchanged contracts on a house and also found out she was pregnant a week before lockdown was implemented.

The therapy team still consists of eight guinea pigs, Shetlands Kelloggs and Super Noodles and miniature donkey Mr Kipling, as well as sheep and other animals.

Caroline has been documenting Verity’s antics with the menagerie on her Facebook page Verity’s Pony Pals, which has more than 33,000 followers.

Recently, she bought her daughter a bike from Facebook marketplace and has been recording Verity’s attempts to learn to ride it while getting the animals to join in. They are using the challenge to raise money to support the team until they can work again.

“Our main focus lately has been giving people something positive to watch and we have had lots of people saying they are enjoying the content. I thought if we all got together in supporting Verity to learn a new skill, teaching her something but doing it together, it would be nice for people who are self-shielding or having to be away from their own grandchildren,” Caroline explained.

“We are just at the point of involving the other animals. We’ll have the guinea pigs in a basket at the front and we’ve just been teaching the chickens to perch on the bars,” she added. “Verity has had an affinity with Mr Kipling since she was born and he joins in with her, stopping and waiting for her to catch up.”

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Caroline said her supporters had been amazing, and had encouraged her to set up an Amazon wish list, from which she had been sent everything from bedding to guinea pig treats.

“When there are so many charities needing help, it was a worry for me asking for anything as I didn’t want to take from others,” Caroline said. “But people said they were helping others but wanted to help us too.

“I think in years to come, if someone were to ask me about the coronavirus outbreak and what it was like, the word I would use to describe it is ‘kindness’. That will be the thing we’ll take from this — we have been suppoorted emotionally, physically and financially.”

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