SGN volunteers riding high after successful community day
20 March 2017
The SGN team ‘road test’ the new pathways.
A team of employees from SGN have done their bit to make getting out in the countryside safer for disabled riders at a Kent therapeutic riding centre, after helping to extend the centre’s woodland walk.
The Alkham Valley Community Project (AVCP) is an inclusive riding school which provides therapeutic activities such as horse riding, carriage driving and horticulture for disabled and disadvantaged adults and children to promote their health and wellbeing.
The project runs regular activity sessions from its 40-acre riding centre in the Alkham Valley between Folkestone and Dover in Kent, which benefit participants with conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, acquired brain injury and Down’s syndrome.
With help from landscape partnership scheme Up on the Downs, the riding school had already begun creating a woodland walk around the centre to give riders and carriage drivers a safe route away from traffic, but their goal was to extend the walk further and create new pathways through the woodland.
Thirteen employees from SGN’s East Kent Network Maintenance team spent the day at the riding centre recently, helping to create the new pathway and also clear debris, brambles and small trees from the existing route.
The group offered their support as part of SGN’s Community Action Programme (CAP), in which every employee is given one day each year on company time to help out in their local community.
The idea of helping out at the riding centre came from Governor Craftsman Richard Crutchfield, whose son Ryan benefits from its facilities. He said: “Ryan has autism and severe learning disability. He attends the centre twice a week and it’s no exaggeration to say that when he rides he just comes alive.
“My wife and I have witnessed at first hand the fantastic work done at Alkham Valley. The benefits for disabled people of being able to get out in the countryside and experience nature are tremendous and we were keen to do anything we could to make this easier for them.
“We had a fantastic day. Everyone came along – managers, skilled workers and apprentices alike – and we all mucked in together to get the job done. It was especially rewarding to see the smiles on the faces of the children when they were able to ride along the path unhindered by brambles and other debris.”