Charity aims to Ride just as High in its second year

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STAFF at a highly successful city charity are looking to Ride High as they celebrated their second birthday with a party for the children.

Ride High is a charity that helps disadvantaged and troubled youngsters by teaching them a host of social skills, including responsibility, interaction and communication by learning about and working with horses.

The group has already drummed up support from various sources including Iain Stewart, MP for Milton Keynes South, and chairman of the MK Lions, Vince Macauley, who is also an Ambassador of the Milton Keynes Community Foundation.

It is the brainchild of Rachel Medill who set it up from scratch on April 22, 2009 and now caters for more than 70 children a week at the clubrooms at Bryerley Springs Farm close to Great Brickhill.

There, Rachel and her team of dedicated volunteers help the children to participate in various activities that they may be struggling to focus on when they are at school, because of personal reasons or problems away from it.

They are encouraged to learn to ride and care for the horses but the work they do away from the animals also acts as a stepping stone to gaining valuable volunteering and work experience

The successes have been steady but in the last six months they have exceeded even their own expectations.

They won the Best Business Supporting the Local Community 2010 at the MK Chamber of Commerce Awards as well as the Best Community/Arts/Sports Group at last year’s Pride of Milton Keynes Awards.

They also received the High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire Award for Great and Valuable Services to the Community.

Rachel said: “Setting up this charity has been an incredible ride – we couldn’t have done it without support from so many individuals and organisations, particularly the Milton Keynes Community Foundation who have not only supported us themselves but facilitated a major grant from Sport Relief”

Ride High’s annual costs are around £160,000, which it raises from grants, donations, services in kind and fundraising events. They arrange for the children to be picked up and taken home if they can’t make it and staff and volunteers often take them on trips out to equestrian events.

Rachel added: “We are all in difficult times but the positive changes we see in the children on a daily basis make the efforts worthwhile and with continued support from Milton Keynes businesses we hope to extend our services in the next year.”