One of Pendle’s leading disabled sporting charities has issued a last ditch appeal for financial help to allow three stars to compete at a prestigious national event.
The Pendle Riding for the Disabled group wants to send Salterforth’s Jordan McGladdery (22) and two other riders Felicity Coulthard (29) and Vikki Howarth (33) to the Riding for the Disabled Association’s British National Championships at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire in July.
The trio of talented riders cantered through this month’s qualifiers and Jordan, who suffers with a learning disability, will show off her skills in both the dressage and showjumping disciplines at the showcase summer event.
Good things are also expected from Manchester’s Vikki, who is blind, and Darwen’s Felicity, who lives with cerebral palsy. The latter won a Paralympic silver medal in equestrianism at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Nationwide, the Disabled Riding Association has 28,000 riders from 491 member groups, 61 counties and 18 regions.
However, the Barnoldswick-based group has only ever sent one rider to the championships in previous years. The triple success has left group chief instructor Kate Bailey fearing they won’t be able to compete.
Kate said: “This is the first time we have had more than one rider qualify in the same year and we have managed in the past.
“But we estimate that it will cost more than £700 and that doesn’t even include accommodation for the three days.
“Equestrianism is expensive. We have entry fees, the cost of diesel for transport and we have to pay for stabling when we get down there.
“We are the only disabled riding group in the North West to offer riding for free and we rely on volunteers and donations.
“The forms have to be submitted by June 2nd but cost of this event is just too expensive and we would really like to send all three to the competition.”
Pendle’s Riding for the Disabled group was set up in 1977 but has gone from strength to strength since it received a £40,000 mechanical horse by way of lottery funding in 2011.
People travel from as far away as Keighley and Manchester to attend sessions and the group has seen numbers of riders rise from six in 2011 to 90 at the present day, with the youngest being three-year-old Oliver Rushton from Barlick and the oldest being 92-year-old Brian Finch who travels from Bashall Eaves.
Kate added: “It’s wonderful. We knew the mechanical horse was good but we didn’t know just how good it would be in the long term.
“The smiles that come across people’s faces when they are riding is amazing. But it’s not just the confidence and self-esteem riding can provide riders, it’s the impact on their families which is fantastic too.”
Jordan’s mother Helen said: “For Jordan, this would mean everything. She’s ridden horses from a young age and loves it. It would mean the world to her to compete and it would be a huge achievement.”
Any sponsors of the Gloucestershire hopefuls will have their names printed on kit. For further information, call Kate Bailey on 07780 864723.