Marlborough town councillors visit to the Greatwood charity - with a cheque
Greatwood, the charity based at Clench Common that looks after retired racehorses and use them to help disadvantaged children, were voted one of Marlborough Town Council's small grants.
They were awarded £928 as match funding for six St John's Academy students to attend one of their 'Developing Confidence' courses.
On Thursday (February 25) the Town Mayor, Councillor Margaret Rose, her Deputy and Mayor elect, Councillor Noel Barrett-Morton and his wife, and five of their fellow councillors and the Town Clerk visited Greatwood for a tour and the presentation of the cheque.
They were shown round by Mrs Sasha Thorbek-Hooper, Greatwood's full-time fundraiser and met some of the 47 horses currently being looked after by Greatwood and some of the young people benefitting from one of the charity's many courses.
Donations and grants like this one are needed as match funding because schools can no longer afford the full fees to send their students to alternative providers of specialist courses - like Greatwood.
Greatwood price their courses at a level to attract as many students as possible, but even then for some courses this means there is a shortfall against the amount the school can afford, and that is where the match funding comes in. With enough donations coming in Greatwood are sometimes able to offer fully subsidised placements.
The councillors heard how young people - from six year-olds upwards to 24 year-olds - can benefit from working with animals whether they need help with low personal esteem, behaviour problems or lack of confidence.
Many of the disadvantaged young people who attend Greatwood courses have reduced expectations of progressing into education, training and on towards employment. And although not yet an accredited provider of apprenticeships, they are working closely with the Northern Racing College to develop appropriate courses that will provide entry to work in the equestrian industry and similar areas of employment.
It was sobering to hear that Greatwood are having more young people sent to them with post traumatic stress disorder - in some instances arising from primary schoolchildren's experience of domestic violence.
Greatwood needs to raise £500,000 a year to continue to look after the horses and develop educational courses. Each horse costs £8,000 a year in food, straw, and vets' and farriers' bills.
Besides finding retired racehorses that can really help young people, one of the charity's aims is re-homing horses - not always an easy or speedy way to cope with these horses who are no longer earning their keep at training yards.
The charity's next big fundraising day is Newbury Racecourse's Greatwood Day on Saturday, 5 March. The card includes the Grade 3 Greatwood Gold Cup - always a highly competitive race. Further details here.