Special anniversary for riding group

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A horse riding group which helps disabled people learn to ride will celebrate with a Ruby ball at Wetherby Racecourse this weekend.

The Riding for the Disabled Stockeld Park group, based at Sicklinghall, has been helping children with physical and learning disabilities learning to ride for the past 40 years.

And to celebrate the birthday, a highlight of the year will be the ball which is taking place this Saturday on May 11.

As well as the ball, vital funds are raised every year during a sponsored ride which takes place at Bramham Park on June 15 following the weekend of the Bramham International Horse Trials,

This year the ride is being supported by the law firm, Irwin Mitchell.

The riding for disabled the group was founded in 1973 and organised by a number of local people, including Jeanne-Marie Dickens.

Ms Dickens was a Hungarian countess who was married to Charles Dickens, the great-great grandson of Victorian writer Charles Dickens.

They lived in Spofforth and following the death of her husband, Jeanne-Marie returned to live in Hungary in 2000. She will join in the celebrations at the ball on Saturday.

Many people have offered their support for the occasion, including racehorse trainer and Country Week columnist Jo Foster.

Guests will be able to bid for the chance to own a racehorse for the day.

The group found a new home at nearby Sicklinghall after the riding school at Stockeld Park was converted into a ‘Winter Wonderland’.

At weekly sessions, children with physical and learning disabilities get the chance to discover the pleasure of learning to ride which in turn provides many benefits including improving their communication skills, confidence and co-ordination.

Three volunteers are needed to help each child who rides. The group holds morning and afternoon sessions on Tuesdays for children from four local schools, West Oaks and St John’s School for the Deaf in Boston Spa and The Forest School and Springwater School in Knaresborough.

For more information for entry forms, email Francis Hammett at fhfoxheads@hotmail.co.uk. The closing date for entries is 7 June.