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Elgin's St Giles CEntre staff raise £1350 for Forres, Nairn and district branch of Riding for the Disabled


By Garry McCartney

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St Giles manager Stephen Young (left) and colleague Angie Chisholm (right) presenting the cheque to RDA trustees Emma Gregg and Julie Campbell.
St Giles manager Stephen Young (left) and colleague Angie Chisholm (right) presenting the cheque to RDA trustees Emma Gregg and Julie Campbell.

A THERAPEUTIC riding centre for children has been awarded £1350 generated by fundraising at a shopping mall.

Staff from the St Giles Centre in Elgin presented representatives of the Forres, Nairn and district branch of Riding for the Disabled (RDA) with a cheque for the money they raised over the last year.

RDA chairwoman Sonia Howell and her colleagues were delighted with the support.

Sonia said: “Fundraising is very difficult at the moment so this donation will make a big difference. We’ve just restarted our Monday morning sessions. Due to social distancing regulations we can’t offer riding but the children are learning pony care on the ground and are very excited to be back.”

St Giles Centre team members Angie Chisholm and Callum Sinclair organised fundraisers throughout the year including craft fairs, Halloween events, ladies’ nights and Christmas-related events.

“They did everything themselves,” said Sonia.

“They dressed up, they ran games and did all sorts to make them a success.”

A young visitor learning about grooming with one of RDA's volunteer assistants.
A young visitor learning about grooming with one of RDA's volunteer assistants.

RDA offers free therapeutic sessions to children with disabilities from local schools. It has well-trained ponies, professional coaches and volunteers as leaders, side-walkers and fundraisers.

Sonia said: “During lockdown, nearly all out-of-school activities were suspended so participating families had no respite. However, we are currently facilitating groups of four at a time and schools are coming individually rather than mixing.”

RDA divide their arena at Burgie into four, with a pony a child and volunteer in each.

Sonia said: “The children remember everything and have gained confidence. At the end of each session they give their pony a big hug and get back on the bus with a big smile. The schools have been incredibly supportive.”

The cost to RDA of pony hire, instruction, insurance and more comes to nearly £600 per week, but because they hire their animals, while it was closed during lockdown running costs were reduced.

Friends re-united!
Friends re-united!

Sonia said: “We still have to raise over £20,000 per year to keep going. Previously we had coffee mornings, sponsored events, bag packing, a pop-up charity shop and the like but they aren’t an option at the moment.”

RDA has launched a sponsor a pony scheme: for £500-a-year, businesses or individuals can cover the cost of a pony which allows a child to ride for 12 months. In exchange RDA publicise the business or cause at sessions, events and in newsletters.

Contact forresnairnrda@gmail.com or on 01309 641363 for more information.



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