A pioneering charity which uses horses to help wounded and injured veterans regain confidence has received a £150,000 grant from Help for Heroes to deliver more courses.
The grant brings the total awarded by Help for Heroes to HorseBack UK, based in Aberdeenshire, to more than £1 million.
One man who knows first hand of the healing power of horses is Glenrothes veteran George Brown.
George, who has back injuries and mental health issues following 15 years’ service with the Military Police including tours of Northern Ireland, Germany and Cyprus, went on a five-day course.
“I didn’t even think I could get on a horse, but that wasn’t a problem as they have all kinds of equipment to help,” he said.
“The course was excellent. I was with five other veterans and it was very relaxed.”
George said it was amazing to be able to “read” a horse’s feelings and by the end of the five days have a great sense of achievement and a confidence boost.
He will return next month and hopes to complete the final phase which involves riding out into the wilds and staying overnight.
George was put forward for the course by Sophie Mifsud, Scottish volunteering project manager of Step Together Volunteering.
The charity, which is also supported by Help for Heroes, helps wounded and injured service personnel and veterans to engage in community volunteering as a part of their recovery and resettlement.
Help for Heroes has been involved with HorseBack UK since the early days of the charity, after recognising its potential to provide a unique service, using a combination of equine therapy, the outdoors and adventure training to help people regain confidence and mobility, and to rebuild and move forward into their future.
The additional £150,000 will fund 10 courses, benefiting up to 100 wounded, injured and sick veterans.
Horseback UK founder Emma Hutchison said: “Help for Heroes have been major funders of HorseBack UK from the beginning.
“Without their belief and support both financially and otherwise, HorseBack UK would not be where it is today.
“The £150,000 grant not only contributes largely to the course costs but also forms a basis on which many other grants and funds are raised.”
Claire Barnes, head of grants at Help for Heroes, added: “Help for Heroes is all about getting the very best support to the wounded servicemen and women and their families whose lives are changed by their injuries and illness.”