FOUR disabled riders will compete against the best riders in the country at a prestigious event next weekend – after a generous donation from two Northumberland businessmen saved the day.
Staff and users at the RDA’s Pegasus Centre at Tranwell near Morpeth had held a number of events to raise cash to pay for the trip to compete at the Riding for the Disabled Association’s (RDA) National Championship in Gloucester on July 9 and 10.
Pegasus Pony Club member Lily Owens, 12, from Morpeth, took part in an 11km sponsored ride which raised more than £100, the father of one of the competitors had his legs and chest waxed and there was also a dog show and a horse show.
Along with a £250 grant from the RDA, they had managed to raise two-thirds of the amount needed for transport, accommodation and food for the event.
But, still £500 short, there were fears the four riders – Reece Sommerfeld, six, from Choppington, Jessica Southwick, 15, from Killingworth, Stephan Storey, 16, from Ashington, and Gayle Bloomfield, 40, from Seahouses – would not be able to fulfil their dream.
Just a day before the deadline for entries, the directors of Burgham Horse Trials, Sunil Mehra and Semore Kurdi heard of their plight and immediately stepped in and agreed to fund the shortfall.
Pegasus Centre manager Wilma Lister said: “We can’t put into words how grateful we are – obviously the Burgham Horse Trials donation has made a huge difference.
“In the current climate it is very hard to secure grants and donations.
“It went right up to the wire – we heard just the day before entries had to be in that we had enough money – and until then there was a very strong possibility we wouldn’t have been able to go.”
The four will be competing in a field of 350 from across the UK and Ireland in international standard facilities for the RDA’s top prizes.
Burgham director Sunil Mehra said: “When we heard there was a risk that the local riders could miss out on a dream weekend competing against the best in the country, we had no hesitation stepping in to fund the shortfall.
“We hope they have a fantastic time and wish them the best of luck.”