Readers vote for Recorder reporters to volunteer at the Chigwell Riding Trust

The Recorder team will be volunteering at the Chigwell Riding Trust next month after readers voted it as the local charity they most wanted us to help.

We are volunteering for Mitzvah Day, a Jewish-led day of social action on November 18, which aims to bring together people of different ages, faiths and walks of life to improve the community.

The Chigwell Riding Trust won our online poll with 40 per cent of the vote, while the Rose Walton Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy came second with 27 per cent.

Wellgate Community Farm came third with 20 per cent and 13 per cent of voters selected Haven House Children’s Hospice.

The Chigwell Riding Trust is thought to be the oldest equestrian centre for disabled people in the world and caters for around 160 riders a week of all ages and abilities.

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Manager Deborah Hall said: “It’s a very special place.

“Coming here for some riders is a life-changing experience and we’ve had some incredible achievements.

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“One child walked for the first time, another hadn’t talked for two years and then started by saying a pony’s name.

“It helps with balance, co-ordination, confidence and self-esteem.

“It’s therapy but I don’t like to bang on about that because they come here to learn a sport and I think the Paralympics opened everyone’s eyes to that.”

Deborah said help is always needed at the centre, at Grange Farm, High Road, and we could be helping with the horses or even the children’s lessons.

Mitzvah Day is in its eighth year and expects to attract 25,000 volunteers to support more than 800 projects across the country.

Rabbi Alex Chapper, of Ilford Federation Synagogue, said the trust does “wonderful work”.

He added: “It enables those with special needs to enjoy the thrill of riding horses and ponies and, as an organisation that’s wholly dependant on the good will of the community, it will certainly benefit from the volunteers joining them on Mitzvah Day.”

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