A former picture house is taking a central role in its community once more after being redeveloped into a place
An inner-city riding school is urgently appealing to raise £75,000 to ensure young people in Liverpool do not have to give up their sport through lack of access to horses.
Park Palace Ponies has introduced thousands of children to riding and the joy of being around horses since it opened in 2017. It is seeking the five-figure investment by 22 May to open a full-sized riding school, named Walkers’ Wood Riding School, which would give young people continued, affordable access to equestrian sport.
The nature of Park Palace Ponies, and its arena size, means that it operates as a “starter” riding school. Children can learn about pony care and the riding basics, and the charity then directs them to full-sized riding schools in Merseyside.
But riding school closures and increased pressure on those that are left means these are at full capacity, too expensive or simply inaccessible for many young people moving up from Park Palace Ponies.
“Park Palace Ponies is massively successful – we’ve had around 3,000 children through since we started and about 6,000 kids on ‘taster’ sessions,” Bridget Griffin, voluntary chair of the board of directors, told H&H,
“For our riders, the biggest problem preventing them from continuing is accessibility and actually being able to get to a riding school.”
She added that the closest is about a 35-minute drive, or two buses and an hour-long journey away.
“For some riders that has worked,” she said. “But there is a massive group of riders who have not been able to continue their riding because of that access. We are introducing young people to the sport they love and the mental and physical benefits and then say ‘we can’t do any more’.”
She said that expanding to offer a full-size riding school in the area has been on their minds since they opened and the perfect site has become available.
The 11-acre patch of land for sale in Aigburth, South Liverpool, would be enough to establish a small riding school with eight horses and is easily accessible, being just a five-minute drive or train ride from Park Palace.
The charity has tried approaching the local council and Sport England to see if there would be funding available,but with no success.
“This is our last-ditch attempt,” said Ms Griffin, adding that land like this would be unlikely to come up again. “The owner wants it to become a riding school and to avoid it becoming just another residential development site.
She said the landowner has been “brilliant” and is doing “everything in his power” to help the charity succeed.
“He has said we could lease it for a year and run it as a pop-up, like we did with Park Palace,” she said, explaining that the charity originally managed to get off the ground before its future was secured.
She said that the charity could run a similar model with this – popping up for a year, proving its worth and then re-approaching places for Government funding.
“We need £30,000 to lease the land for the year and £45,000 for the initial capital for things like stables and the arena, by Sunday, 22 May,” she said.
“We have never done a crowdfunder, but this is our final option. We are trying to make it work.”
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Credit: Park Palace Ponies
The ponies have been moved owing to the coronavirus restrictions
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