Bassingbourn mum’s fight to keep Riding for Disabled centre open

PUBLISHED: 13:11 09 September 2020 | UPDATED: 13:18 09 September 2020

Cerys Hennighan from Bassingbourn has been attending Penniwells RDA centre since 2012. Picture: Tracey Hennighan

Cerys Hennighan from Bassingbourn has been attending Penniwells RDA centre since 2012. Picture: Tracey Hennighan

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The mum of a teenager from Bassingbourn who has complex medical needs has started a fundraising drive for a Riding for the Disabled Association centre at risk of closure.

Cerys Hennighan from Bassingbourn has been attending Penniwells RDA centre since 2012. Picture: Tracey HennighanCerys Hennighan from Bassingbourn has been attending Penniwells RDA centre since 2012. Picture: Tracey Hennighan

Tracey Hennighan’s daughter Cerys has chromosomal disorder 22q11.2 deletion syndrome – known as 22.q – and she has been using Penniwells RDA in Elstree since 2012.

Tracey told the Crow: “It’s a fair away to go for Cerys, but they understand her and they are like family.

“She’s got skeletal and muscle issues, when she doesn’t ride she does feel it. It helps her muscles, and helps loosen up her joints and strengthen her up.

“Cerys has social difficulties but she feels like she’s in a safe zone there, she feels she can be herself and it improves her mental health.”

Cerys Hennighan from Bassingbourn has been attending Penniwells RDA centre since 2012. Picture: Tracey HennighanCerys Hennighan from Bassingbourn has been attending Penniwells RDA centre since 2012. Picture: Tracey Hennighan

Before lockdown, 19-year-old Cerys would travel with Tracey to the site once a week to ride and then again for a training programme in horse care.

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“Cerys has been around horses since she was seven, but she has to do the training to prove what she knows,” said Tracey. 
“She wants to work in the equine world eventually so this training programme is important.

“We are in the process of organising a traineeship for her, but it’s not as simple as it would be for others who don’t have additional needs.

“Lockdown has affected Cerys’ mental health. She hasn’t been able to go out with her carers and she has anxiety.

“Cerys has a bond with all animals, it comes naturally to her.

“She loves hugging the horses because they know if you’re feeling low.”

At Penniwells, Cerys rides different horses and ponies, but her favourite pony is named Puzzle. The centre gets most of their funds from rider fees, but since the coronavirus lockdown has eased they still only have around 10 per cent of the riders back at the centre.

“They get a small amount from RDA National but it’s not a lot – they always rely on rider fees. I know everyone has been affected by COVID but charities have taken a massive hit – so I didn’t hesitate in trying to do what I can to raise funds. It’s vital that Penniwells stays open, 100 per cent.”

Tracey’s page has amassed more than £600 in donations. Go to www.gofundme.com/f/please-help-save-penniwells-rda.


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