Eric and I were lucky enough to visit the Diamond Riding Centre on Woodmansterne Road on Thursday. The trustees wanted to raise their concerns about the effects of an access road to the proposed rebuilt Stanley Park School on Orchard Hill and also discuss opportunities.
I've lived in Carshalton for eighteen years now and always considered the Diamond Centre a sign opposite Oaks Park. In fact it is a sizeable operation, being the largest specialist disabled riding centre in the UK and possibly the world. 30 horses and 250 volunteers help children and adults with every type of disability enjoy a degree of freedom and stimulus that is simply not available to them anywhere else. They also practice "hippotherapy" which uses the movement of the horse to apply physiotherapy to the rider, often with the most severe disability.
They feared that if an access road was constructed within the BIBRA site, they would have to reduce the number of horses by six as it would be too dangerous to access the grazing fields across the road. On the positive side, pupils attending the proposed mild autistic spectrum unit may be able to benefit from the Centre. They also train volunteers up to an accredited level where they can open their own centre. Techniques have been exported to countries such as Croatia where victims of landmines have benefited. The vocational nature of Stanley Park may have some synergy with this.
It was a lovely morning and so walking across the fields was pleasant enough, but seeing the combination of concentration and delight on the children's faces made it a truly wonderful experience.