Disabled find a Lotto fun at own dedicated stable

The stables at Ravelrig have had a lot of funding from the lottery already and should get more. Picture: Lesley Martin
The stables at Ravelrig have had a lot of funding from the lottery already and should get more. Picture: Lesley Martin
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Their faces, beaming with ear-to-ear smiles, tell the whole story.

One trip to the Ravelrig ­Riding for the Disabled Centre will leave you in no doubt as to what a special and inspiring place it is.

It is somewhere people of all ages and disabilities can come together for what are often life-changing experiences. And incredibly, it is a place run entirely by a dedicated band of volunteers.

Their work is funded by ­generous donations, and the cash you spend playing the Lotto is a vital part of that.

The centre, based in Balerno, offers disabled people aged between three and 61 the chance to experience horse ­riding. More than 120 people are registered at the centre, with 96 ­riding every week.

However, the group’s existing centre is not fit for use all year round, and has ­previously had to close during the winter months.

Thanks to a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery, it is now ready to present plans for a new centre, which would allow riding all year round.

The funding has paid for a feasibility study, architect’s fees and a business plan.

Organiser Barbara Johnstone, 69, who has been volunteering with the charity for 28 years, said: “It costs us £60,000 a year just to keep this place ­running, so we are constantly fundraising as it is.

“The money given to us by the Lottery made a huge ­difference as we could move ahead with getting our plans together for the new centre.”

Horse riding is both therapeutic and recreational, with the complex movement of the horse helping to improve co-ordination, balance, muscular development and fitness. It also helps with self-esteem, communication skills, and trust.

One person who can’t wait to see the new centre become a reality is Emma Richardson, 26, of ­Corstorphine, who has been visiting the centre regularly since she was only four.

Mum Pat, 60, said: “Emma has a rare condition called ataxic cerebral palsy, is ­partially sighted and also ­suffers from epilepsy.

“Her involvement with Riding for the Disabled has improved her life in countless ways. The interaction with the animals is very therapeutic, and horse riding is also extremely good exercise, it works all muscle groups. Plus it has given her the chance to interact and have fun with people in a similar situation to herself. I take my hat off to them.”

Barbara added: “We need to raise £1.8 million to pay for the new centre, which will include a 20-metre by 40m riding ring, a viewing area for people to go and watch, a club room, a meeting room and physio space. It’s not a question of ‘if’ we get there, it’s ‘when’, but we’d like it to be sooner rather than later! We’ve already managed to raise about £150,000 and we are hoping that we will receive some funding to help us get closer to our target – and we will be applying to the National Lottery once again, as they have helped us so much in the past.”

• By playing the National Lottery you help raise £35m every week for good causes. To see the difference this makes in your community visit www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk.