Offer children a gift of freedom

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LEARNING to ride isn’t just an amazing achievement for many children at Spalding’s Garth and Priory Schools.

It’s a whole new experience to have people look up to you on a pony’s back instead of down at you in a wheelchair.

Judi Van Geest, group organiser of Fenland Riding for the Disabled (RDA) which works exclusively with the schools’ pupils said: “A lot of the children can’t walk very well and it takes great courage for them to ride.

“When they do, the sheer freedom they feel lights up their faces. It’s a delight to see.”

The Fenland RDA group, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, meets in term time between March and October at Judi’s home in Low Fulney for one intensive morning a week.

There are 30 volunteers, a small number of whom bring their ponies along, as the group relies on volunteers’ own mounts.

With up to 20 children at each lesson from qualified riding instructors, a minimum of 18 volunteers are working at a time, with one leading and two sidewalkers to each pony.

More volunteers are always needed, and are invited to come for a couple of sessions before committing themselves to training and CRB checks.

They need to have good people skills and experience with ponies or a real liking for children and the ability to make sure they’re taking in what the instructor is saying. To volunteer, phone Valerie Machin on 01778 349565.