Ferring charity nominated for Community Stars award

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A CHARITY that provides opportunities for people with disabilities to take up horse riding has been nominated for a Community Stars award.

The Riding Therapy Unit at Ferring Country Centre provides facilities to benefit children and adults with both physical and learning difficulties by regular contact with horses.

The Riding Therapy Unit at Ferring Country Centre provides facilities to benefit children and adults with both physical and learning difficulties by regular contact with horses.

It is the only centre of its kind in the area and specialises in hacking, jumping, dressage and even driving a carriage.

The centre is suitable for people with a wide range of disabilities including down’s syndrome, aspergers, ADHD, Leukaemia, deafness, blindness, Kabuki syndrome, attachment disorder, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, dyspraxia, development delay, learning difficulties, physical difficulties and autism.

The unit has been nominated under the Charity of the Year category by Chris Brown, who is now a volunteer at the centre after starting to use it two years ago.

She said: “The unit provides an amazing service to people with various disabilities who ride their horses, and the staff are excellent at training and supporting the adults who work in the stables.

“After years of illness and hospitalisation the riding therapy unit helped me to regain my quality of life and self-confidence.

The unit is always an environment with a happy and relaxed atmosphere and the staff all have excellent equestrian and stable management skills.

Without their help I would never have gained the quality of life that I have now.”

The unit’s riders are aged between four and 60 years old and 600 people attend lessons every month.

The ethos of the centre is based upon research to show that there are many physiological benefits to be gained through riding such as increasing alertness, calmness, motivation and responsibility.

For those with self-injurious or autistic behaviours, the gentle stimulation of touch helps relieve agitation and promotes relaxation.

Riders also benefit from spending time with animals in a meaningful way as it increases trust and pro-social activity, the understanding of feelings and emotions and promotes increased motivation and responsibility towards others.

It can also lead to increased language and speech development and understanding of space and time.

Unit manager Lauren Suggett said: “It is a bit of a shock to have been nominated but it would be amazing to win the category.

“The staff here put a huge amount of work in and it is just really nice that someone has taken the time to think about us as a service.

“Riding therapy gives an opportunity for so many people who probably would not have access to riding a horse otherwise or enjoying it as a leisure activity.

“This is a place for the service users to come and make friends and socialise. We work together as a big team and hopefully we spread a little bit of happiness.”

You can now email your Community Stars nominations to sian.gordon@worthingherald.co.uk