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Horse-loving princess celebrates with riding for the disabled group

PUBLISHED: 17:12 19 December 2017

Riding for the Disabled Association centre staff chat to the Princess Royal. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Riding for the Disabled Association centre staff chat to the Princess Royal. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A group which provides vital therapy for adults and children with disabilities today celebrated the opening of its new home with a very special royal guest.

Princess Royal opens the Riding for the Disabled Association centre in Clopton. Picture: GREGG BROWN Princess Royal opens the Riding for the Disabled Association centre in Clopton. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The Princess Royal, who has had a lifelong love of horses and all things equestrian, visited the Woodbridge and District Group of Riding for the Disabled, which just over a year ago was facing a desperate search for a new site.

The group, previously called the Hollesley Group of the RDA, had to leave its previous home at Pettistree Hall Farm, Sutton, as the lease came to an end after more than 20 years.

After a public appeal for help, it was able to move to The Bays, Clopton, by kind permission of the Chamberlain family.

Yesterday after more than a year’s hard work, a huge fundraising effort and generosity beyond measure, the group was joined by the Princess Royal, who formally opened the new purpose-built premises, which include 40m x 20m indoor and outdoor arenas, community area, 25 acres of paddocks for grazing and a 1km all weather track for carriage driving.

Princess Royal chats to the staff at the centre. Picture: GREGG BROWN Princess Royal chats to the staff at the centre. Picture: GREGG BROWN

She then met volunteers, riders and horses before watching a riding demonstration and awards ceremony, and took part in a formal unveiling of a plaque.

Suzanne Hammond, trustee for the group, said they were “absolutely delighted” to welcome Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, and the day meant so much to all the riders, carriage drivers and volunteers.

She said: “Everyone has worked so hard over the last year to make our new home possible. We are so grateful and today is really the icing on the cake.”

The land and old farm buildings at the The Bays has been provided on a long-term lease by landowners, the Chamberlain Family.

Princess Royal meets some of the service users at the Riding for the Disabled Association centre in Clopton. Picture: GREGG BROWN Princess Royal meets some of the service users at the Riding for the Disabled Association centre in Clopton. Picture: GREGG BROWN

She added: “We greatly appreciate the Chamberlain family allowing us the opportunity to develop our new home and build the indoor arena.

“Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal opening our new premises today is a wonderful Christmas present to all involved.

“But our work doesn’t stop now, in the New Year we have more fundraising to do to raise money for the continued renovations and a hoist to help some of our riders mount more easily.”

The group will start riding lessons and carriage driving from their new home in January.

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