We are not sure about you, but the London Living team were still in need of a bit more good news after Boris’ announcement earlier this week. So we were beyond delighted to hear about this incredible feat of communities and Londoners coming together to save an award-winning RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) centre in South West London from closure. Here’s the story – literally from the horses mouth (pardon the pun!), given by Rob Heasman one of the proud locals who found themselves supporting the cause and a victory even the Mars Perseverance mission team would be proud of…
Last week NASA’s Mars Perseverance mission arrived on the Martian surface to find evidence that life once existed. On a normal day one would expect such a landing to dominate headline news given the collective human effort to get just to that point.
However, I have found myself inspired by another magnificent feat reached the same day, much closer to home, in fact, only 400 yards from my home.
Whilst the journey to the red planet took 7 months, and is part of the long term robotic exploration to address the challenges of future human expeditions, over the last 8 weeks I have been closely following the serious threat of extinction of a tiny community stables with a more immediate mission for life.
Park Lane Stables, an award-winning RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) centre in South West London which provides 3000 sessions a year of therapeutic riding found itself under threat of closure. Although tucked away on a residential suburban street, the stables’ community reach is much wider than the locals who use it. Alongside riding lessons and pony club, the horses provide invaluable therapy, achievement and enjoyment to people with disabilities in and around London. Even in lockdown Park Lane stables ponies visited those who were shielding or self-isolating to put a smile on their faces. To lose this facility would be a blow to so many who rely on the life- enhancing therapy it offers.
However with a landlord wanting to sell, the task to raise £1m to buy the land and secure its future in only 8 weeks through Crowdfunder seemed to be astronomically unrealistic, particularly with the current restrictions on our daily lives. That however, would underestimate the resourcefulness of Natalie O’Rourke who runs the Stables and ultimately the generosity of the nation. At the start of the mission, I like many others pledged support, and found part of my daily routine was checking Crowdfunder with my kids to see if the funds were on course. Whilst it was ticking along the weekly rate was well off target and the magic million felt a light year away, three weeks to go, only 25% of the way. The sadness felt by many was tangible.
However, with just a week to go the atmosphere suddenly shifted with a surge of publicity through the racing world, Good Morning Britain, BBC and Sky News. Not to mention celebrity endorsements from local actor Rob Bryden and Clare Balding, the racing guru.
With two weeks to go I text Natalie just to say keep going, the response ‘We are doing it!’
Then, on the day perseverance landed on Mars, Park Lane reached their monument our goal! The scenes at NASA were in a way matched in Teddington.
And so inspite of a year long national lockdown with great sadness and hardship for many, it was the generosity and spirit of the nation which led to the brightest moment in many months. Just like Sir Captain Tom Moore, here was another star turn. Human nature at its best and one giant leap of courage by one.
Head to this link to donate: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-our-stable
Crowdfunding ends today Thursday 25th Feb and has raised £1.3m in total so far!
By Rob Heasman