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Equestrian community rallies behind mental wellbeing initiative in memory of young rider

A new organisation set up to help young people’s wellbeing, following the death of a teenage rider, has raised more than £15,000 to support those going through tough times.

William Paddy, a sporty and charismatic 14-year-old who loved animals, died in May. His Mother, Lesley Paddy, set up #Willdoes in his memory to help other young people struggling to cope with daily life.

The organisation and its supporters are hosting a series of events through the autumn, including a costal walk, golf day, sponsored ride, parties and a clinic with #Willdoes ambassador, eventer Holly Woodhead. A total of £15,233 has so far been raised, which will be put towards projects that help young people to develop coping mechanisms to manage anxiety and emotions and improve trusting relationships.

“As soon as I heard about #Willdoes, I wanted to help,” said Holly, who wore her Willdoes2004 skins on her winning ride at Burnham Market on Sunday.

“Mental health and wellbeing is close to my heart. Life isn’t always easy. When you’re young, there are so many pressures and sometimes it’s hard to see the number of people around you who are there to support you.

“Over the years, I’ve found that your biggest enemy is yourself, and the most important thing is to reach out and ask for help, but as I know, and many others know, it’s often the hardest thing to do.”

Holly’s two-day clinic will be held on 9 and 10 November at Bovington RAC Saddle Club in Dorset, which is run by William’s aunt, Steph Buchanan. She will also be hosting a Q&A evening and auction at the Bear in Wareham on the evening on 9 November, which is open to everyone. All proceeds will go to #Willdoes, which is in the process of securing charitable status.

Steph said she and her sister have been amazed at the support they have had from friends, liveries and others.

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