A riding centre can press forward with its ambition plans after officially being given a funding boost by the government.

In December, it was announced that the Margaret Haes Riding Centre in Holcombe, near Ramsbottom, would receive a pot of money from the Community Ownership Fund to secure its future.

And yesterday, Thursday, Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison went to the Moor Road site to officially announcing the funding boost.

The centre, which supports around 160 riders every week where more than half have a disability, has secured £171,500 worth of funding from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

The money is from a £6.7m rescue package from the department to help to institutions that have fallen into disrepair or are under threat of closure.

Ms Davison came to visit the riding school to meet the volunteers who are at the heart of the centre.

Ms Davidson and Tottington Cllr Luis McBriar also both had the opportunity to ride the horses at the centre which had a stunning backdrop with views which stretched out towards Manchester city centre.

Speaking about the importance of the fund, Ms Davison said: “Here at the Margaret Haes Riding Centre, a visit I’ve been really keen to do, the centre has benefited from £171,500 from the community ownership fund which is just one of the funds we’ve got in place through my department.

“This fund really is helping crucial local organisations save facilities that are really important to them, and around the country it’s helped a variety of places from pubs to community halls, but I think this is such a special place.

“I heard about the riding centre not long after first becoming a minister about four or five months ago and heard about the amazing work they do for the community here.

“Not just people with disabilities who get the opportunity to come and ride, but for the whole community for mental wellbeing, even those with terminal illness, I’ve been hearing stories today about people which have on their bucket list to come and ride one last time and they’ve been given the opportunity to come and do that here.

“The fund is allowing the centre to secure the future of the site to actually purchase it so they’ve got it for the long term but to also do some refurbishment works as well, including a new community hall which will be a really vital asset for them and also opening up some accommodation so those who are visiting have got a place to stay.

“I think it’s really special and a really good example of government money going to the right things.”

The riding centre plan to have a new community room, accommodation and buy fields that surround the centre.

Trustee at the riding centre, Debra Batchelor, said: "The response to our funding appeal from the community and wider, has been incredible, showing how much riding, or simply being with horses, at the riding centre has touched the lives of so many over the years.

"People wanted us to stay, to be there for them and other families, and future generations.

"This award of matching funds from the Community Ownership Fund means we can purchase the property.

"The impossible has now been achieved, thanks to the government's support.

"The future is secure, and we can now unlock so many exciting opportunities to develop our facilities and experiences, and further benefit our community."

Ms Davidson added: “I think it’s crucial, hearing some of the human stories today, because it’s easy to talk about numbers and the number of people helped, but it’s about individuals who have been helped.

“People who have it on their bucket list who want to ride one last time if they have terminal illness or young people with disabilities who have really struggled to come out of their shell and hearing that this unlocks new confidence in them.

“It’s those stories that show and demonstrate how valuable places like this are to a community and I knew that right from the outset as a minister.

“I heard about this place and some of those stories about the amazing work that is going on and knew that we had to do something to make sure we can help them secure their long-term future.”

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