Donation helps disabled riders

FOUR disabled riders are to compete against the best in the country at a prestigious event next weekend after a generous donation from two Northumberland businessmen saved the day.

Staff and users at the Riding for the Disabled Association’s Pegasus Centre at Tranwell near Morpeth had held a number of events to raise money to pay for the trip to the RDA’s National Championships being held in Gloucester on July 9 and 10.

Pegasus Pony Club member Lily Owens, 12, from Morpeth, took part in an 11km sponsored ride which raised £100.

But after a further grant of £250 from the RDA left them £500 short, there were fears four riders – six-year-old Reece Sommerfield, from Choppington, Stephan Storey, 16, from Ashington, Jessica Southwick, 15, from Killingworth, and Gayle Bloomfield, 40, from Seahouses – would not be able to fulfil their dream.

However, just a day before the deadline for entries, the directors of Burgham Horse Trials, Sunil Mehra and Semore Kurdi, heard of their plight and stepped in to fund the shortfall.

Mr Mehra said: “When we heard there was a risk the local riders could miss out on a dream weekend competing against the best in the country, we had no hesitation stepping in to fund the shortfall.

“We hope they have a fantastic time and wish them the best of luck.”

They will be competing in a field of 350 from across the UK and Ireland in international standard facilities for the RDA’s top prizes.

The Burgham Horse Trials team has been working closely with the RDA and the Pegasus Centre for several months planning the Para Dressage competitions for disabled riders, which opens the three-day event at Burgham Park on Friday, July 22.

Disabled riders who want to compete in the PDA Para Dressage competition at Burgham Horse Trials can enter via the website at www.burghamhorsetrials.co.uk