VOLUNTEERS are needed to enable a riding school to launch a wide-ranging programme for disabled people.
The Sandy Lane Equestrian Centre in Weaverham has just received accreditation from the Riding for the Disabled Association to offer tutoring to disabled youngsters and adults around Mid Cheshire.
It is the first disabled riding school to open in recent times, following a raft of closures, and bosses say they hope to provide a wide range of courses for up to 150 disabled people a week.
The riding school was approached last year by Stephanie Lawley, of the Central Cheshire Primary Care Trust (CCPCT), who asked if it was able to help provide riding lessons for disabled children in the area.
Working with Stephanie, the school held a number of sessions during the school holidays catering for about 50 children.
The CCPCT funding was only for a short period but health chiefs said they would like to leave a legacy behind.
Carl Tommons, who owns the centre with his wife, Rose, applied to the Riding for the Disabled Association to set up an RDA centre.
Jean Highet-Carte, regional chairman of the RDA, came out to assess the site's suitability, and a committee was formed, including Claire Simpson (chairman), Shelagh Rogan (treasurer) and Stephanie Lawley (secretary), who put together a formal application to the RDA and the Charities Commission to become an RDA facility.
That was approved earlier this month and Sandy Lane Equestrian RDA Group was born.
Carl said: 'We are now in the process of contacting all the special needs units in the area to make them aware of our presence.
'To expand our activities to run alongside the able-bodied riders and to make it affordable for the special needs riders and their families, we need the help of dozens, if not hundreds, of volunteers.
'We have already started a register of helpers and it doesn't matter if someone can only donate one hour a month as long as they are reliable, that is fine, no experience is needed as training will be given on site - our own instructors are undergoing RDA training at the moment and in turn they will train the helpers.'
Volunteers will be needed for sessions running Tuesday-Friday inclusive, between 9.30am-4.30pm.
He said the group also needs financial backers to provide equipment like an electric hoist - which costs £10,000 alone - and more.
Anyone interested in helping contact the Sandy Lane Equestrian Centre on 01606 854244.