Health, disability & well-being

Funding level: Up to £1,000


The Elisabeth Curtis Centre is a purpose built riding centre on the outskirts of Bedford, which caters solely for young disabled riders.
The Elisabeth Curtis Riding Centre for the Disabled is a registered charitable company with no outside funding. There are two part-time grooms to see to the ponies in the early mornings and in the evenings. Everyone else is a volunteer.

The Centre, was named after the late Mrs Elisabeth Curtis (1921-1981), Chairman of the East Region RDA. “Li” Curtis was closely involved with the development of riding at Bromham Hospital from the beginning. A shared dream, guided them through the early stages with wisdom and understanding, restrained them from taking on more than they could cope with, but never dampened their enthusiasm. Li Curtis sadly died before the dream became reality and so the Centre was been named after her as a living memorial to someone whose standards were of the highest and whose commitment was unquestioned. Li Curtis was committed not only to RDA but also to her family, friends and community; she was a very special person.
There are approximately 28,000 riders and drivers throughout the UK in the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) (incorporating Driving) member groups.
The RDA has been around for over 40 years. It currently has 500 groups around the country and an incredible 18,000 dedicated volunteers who give up their time and very often their ponies to help children and adults with physical and learning disabilities learn to ride. As a registered charity, the lessons and equipment are almost fully funded so cost need not be a barrier to learning.
While riding is renowned for its physical benefits for children with numerous types of medical conditions (including cerebral palsy), such as improving core strength, straightening posture and reducing muscle stiffness, there are many emotional benefits too. Being able to ride a pony creates a real sense of achievement. For children who are confined to a wheelchair or who solely rely on carer, it gives them a real sense of independence. Not to mention the enormous boost to their self-confidence.
But it doesn't only benefit children with physical and learning disabilities. Horse-riding has also been shown to be an effective therapy for children with autism!
They have an indoor school, stabling for nine ponies, a tack room/office, toilets and a reception area.
Currently they have seven ponies at the Centre. They range in size from 13.2 h.h. to 15.3 h.h. All the ponies live out and use their stables only when getting ready for work, or awaiting their turn to be ridden. They are looked after by 2 part time grooms and the “instructor of the day”. They also have helpers to care for them.
A different instructor is in charge of each session, and each session has its own particular character. Most of the helpers attend on just one session in the week.
There are typically three half hour rides in a session, though a few are of longer duration, and riders attend once a week.
Every pony has exceptional and individual characters – they have to be to do such a special job!
They currently have 7 fantastic ponies who are all brimming with character and picked specifically for their gentle fun loving natures.
• Bonny
• Huggy
• JJ
• Lolly
• Muscadeu
• Rupert
• Storm
To enable this wonderful place to stay open we want to help them raise money for their projects:-
• £1,000 will keep a pony for a year
• £500 will buy 10 new riding hats that are required due to a change in EU Regulations.

The Centre needs your votes so they can keep up this marvellous work, and can help more special children enjoy the benefits of riding.

Project Video

The Elisabeth Curtis Centre is a member of the national organisation; Riding for the Disabled Association

Moment of Pride

Over the last decade RKH charitable activities have supported organisations that strengthen the communities in which we live and work.
Our Rural Division have chosen this local charity as it resonates with our Rural connections. Our Team are passionate about horses and don't mind mucking in!

Location: Bedford