A Perthshire charity group could be forced to close its doors after almost half a century because there are not enough volunteers.
Blairgowrie Riding for the Disabled operates from a field in the town’s Golf Course Road, helping children with physical and mental difficulties take to the saddle.
Relying solely on the goodwill of volunteers, the group has reached crisis point as stalwart members fell ill or felt they were growing too old to continue.
The group is now faced with the possibility of closure and is looking for people to take on roles as diverse as riding instructor or administration worker.
Ellen Howet, who has been pony manager for the last 15 years, said: “We are all getting older – there’s been a few people doing all the jobs so we really need more people to help spread the load.
“It’s mainly to clear the fields at the moment but we’ll need them too in the summer when the children are riding. We can’t ride in the winter as we don’t have an indoor school and it’s too wet, cold and miserable for the kids to come.
“We are at real risk of having to close if we don’t get a definite commitment from people. In the past a lot of people have come for a wee while and decided that it’s not for them, which is understandable.”
She said a closure would have an adverse effect on the people who use the facility.
“It’s for children who have all sorts of problems,” she said. “It helps them – they sometimes equate more with a horse than humans and a closure would have a real impact.
“I would be devastated if it closed. I’m now in my mid-70s so I’d like someone to come along and take it on. The more help we have, the less we all have to do.”
The group is looking for people to help care for their seven ponies, keep the grazing clear and healthy and maintain the fences and sheds. Less physical tasks include paperwork, organisation, tack cleaning, equipment maintenance and fund raising.
If you think you can help, or know someone who might, and have a few hours a week to help out contact BlairgowrieRDA@gmail.com or phone Ellen on 01250 874715.