£20k windfall for riding centre charity

From left, Malcolm Haigh, Morpeth RDA Group Chairman, Mike Elliot, Newcastle Racecourse Business Development Manager, and Sam Orde, national RDA Chairman and Morpeth Group Instructor and Trustee.
From left, Malcolm Haigh, Morpeth RDA Group Chairman, Mike Elliot, Newcastle Racecourse Business Development Manager, and Sam Orde, national RDA Chairman and Morpeth Group Instructor and Trustee.

A Morpeth charity that helps nearly 250 disabled children and adults discover the joys of horse riding is £20,000 better off after a huge fund-raising day at Newcastle Racecourse.

The Morpeth Riding for the Disabled group, based at the Pegasus Centre at Tranwell, will use the money to buy more ponies for the centre so it can continue its vital work.

With the backing of North East businesses, the charity sponsored seven races at Newcastle Racecourse and hosted a big fund-raising dinner for 130 guests.

The event was organised by Morpeth RDA secretary Vicky Knox and board member Richard Rutherford, and the money was raised from an auction between each race and donations from guests.

The Pegasus Centre is partly funded by Blyth Valley Arts and Leisure, but the RDA has to raise a significant amount each year to provide 5,000 rides for over 200 disabled children and 40 adults who use the Pegasus Centre. They have 100 volunteers and four full-time staff at the Pegasus Centre.

The event was attended by national RDA chairman Sam Orde, who gave a talk on the charity’s work.

Prizes up for auction included membership of the Northumberland Racing Club with two racehorses for a year for two people, donated by Simon Waugh Racing.

Vicky said: “The RDA really does make a huge difference to people’s lives, not only for the disabled themselves but for their families too.

“Horse riding can really help disabled children develop physically and mentally even in a very short time.

“Some of the funds will be used for buying ponies which we are in great need of at the moment.

“We have 13 ponies but are always in need of more. We raise significant funds towards the total cost of running the RDA at the Pegasus Centre, and we’re always looking for fund-raising opportunities.

“Both Richard Rutherford and I share a common enthusiasm for racing and we felt there was definitely potential in linking the RDA with racing.

“With tremendous support from Newcastle Racecourse, North East businesses and significant donations from others, we were able to sponsor all seven races and entertain over 150 people to dinner in a private room overlooking the racecourse.

“A tremendous atmosphere was created with an auction between races, where people got very competitive. Mike Elliott and the staff at Newcastle Racecourse could not have been more helpful and even helped to get two races sponsored for us.”