GILL RUSHWORTH, a volunteer with the Wyfold Group Riding for the Disabled Association, spoke at this week’s meeting of Henley Rotary Club at Henley Golf Club on Tuesday.
The group was set up in 1970 and has proved to be of great benefit to the disabled children and adults who use its facilities.
Based at Wyfold, on the site of the old Borocourt Hospital, the association has eight horses and more than 80 volunteers teach 75 disabled children and adults to ride horse and ponies or to drive a carriage.
Mrs Rushworth, who has a background in teaching, has been a volunteer at the charity for three years and took on the post of fund-raising co-ordinator a year ago.
She said that the clients all testify to the increase in self-esteem and improvement in physical ability which the group has given them.
Parents have spoken of the therapeutic effects of the horses and how their children have gained confidence and found a new mobility.
Pupils from Bishopswood Schoolare among the users and usually visit on Mondays but the centre is open six days a week, staffed by the volunteers who between them provide about 8,500 hours per year.
Mrs Rushworth revealed that it cost about £40,000 a year to run the centre and the charity was currently running with an annual deficit of £10,000.
She had organised more fund-raising activities. such as a grand raffle which had raised £5,000, a pub quiz night at Stoke Row village hall and a summer fun day.
In addition the users’ donations were being increased from £5 to £8 per session.
Following questions, Will Busher proposed the vote of thanks.
At last week’s meeting, past district governor and Rotary Club of Henley Bridge member Ian Black gave an interesting talk on the Caribbean.
Also present was Patricia Williams, who contributed a cheque for £875 to the club’s charity account from donations given in memory of her late husband Russell, a popular member.
Immediate past president Roger Sayer thanked her on behalf of the club.