A positive ray of sunshine for our community

We were very excited to learn that in spite of the COVID lockdown, Park Lane Stables RDA group has been shortlisted, once again, for the Carriage Driving Awards 2020.   They have been nominated under the category ‘Driving for the Disabled Group of the Year’ and an award ceremony will be held on 24 November at the Steam Museum in Swindon. We have long been a supported of Park Lane Stables and are delighted to see them to continue their incredible work.

Like everyone else, they had to close the stables when the lockdown began in March. They are gradually starting to open once again to experienced riders, but since their RDA participants are in the high risk category and need lots of support, they cannot offer any riding or carriage driving at present due to the strict social distancing regulations.

Whizz pays a visit to a RDA birthday girl

Horses are expensive to feed and care for, and with no income coming in from participants, this period has been difficult for the stable. Resourceful as ever, they nonetheless managed to secure a few government COVID grants and have done lots of fundraising activities to keep going, such as their popular ‘Sponsor a Pony’ campaign.

They have been coming up with all sorts of innovative ways to bring joy to the community, including their famous Pony Visits, which you may have seen on the BBC and ITV news. This involves taking a pony to visit the streets and houses of children (and some adults) who have been in isolation due to COVID, particularly those with disabilities and mental health issues and giving light relief to their parents and carers too. Sometimes it’s for a child’s birthday surprise and often the bunting comes out and the whole street gets involved. They have also visited care homes and keyworker children at school. They have been doing at least one visit per day, covering the Teddington, Hampton, Twickenham, Richmond, Kingston areas and beyond – the record was 26 visits in one day!

Sam who usually pulls the H&L carriage is put to good use working in the field

With proven wellbeing benefits of being near horses and ponies, Park Lane Stables have also recently started a new Wellbeing in Wellies session – no riding involved, just giving children and young adults, particularly those with mental health issues (which have been exacerbated during lockdown) the opportunity to spend some time with a pony for serious cuddles.

Hopefully we will see the stables continue to thrive and will once again see the carriage on our streets, but in the meantime we wish them all the best. If you are able to help or want to participate in any of their activities, please see their website for more details.

With best wishes from the H&L team

(main picture – Pony club member Claudia celebrates her 12th birthday with a socially distanced ride)