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The British Horse Society British Horse Society's Royal President to visit Islington educational project at Lee Valley Riding Centre

The British Horse Society's (BHS) Royal President, HRH The Princess Royal, will be visiting a unique equine educational project, initiated by the BHS, at Lee Valley Riding Centre based at Leyton, London, on Wednesday 4 February.

The project is in line with the Government's scheme to encourage Year 10 and 11 pupils to study for a vocational qualification in a work environment and that of the BHS in its commitment to the Sporting Equals Racial Equality Charter. At Lee Valley a pilot project has been set up by the BHS, in conjunction with Lee Valley Riding Centre manager, Irena Grint, and CEA@Islington, to enable a group of Year 10 pupils from local schools to attend the riding centre one day a week for two academic years and work towards a recognised BHS qualification; either Stage One or NVQ Level One.

The Princess Royal, well known for her interest in encouraging children to ride, will visit the centre from 13.20 - 15.00 hours and meet with the children after watching them ride and work around the stables.

The project was instigated by Margaret Linington-Payne, BHS Senior Manager for Examinations, Training and Approvals. With help from the Excellence in Cities Project Manager for Islington, Dr. Mary Linington, schools in Islington were approached in July 2003 and the pilot commenced in November with six Year 10 children from the Samuel Rhodes School. Head teacher Jackie Blount felt there was value in introducing her students to such a project and her enthusiasm, supported by her staff, has allowed the project to prosper. From January 2004 five more children from the mainstream Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Language College joined the group.

Ms Blount commented: "Samuel Rhodes is a school for children with moderate learning difficulties and they have taken to horses with great enthusiasm. Already there has been a noticeable change in their motivation and social skills. The children are proving very keen to attend and make a real effort to learn from their instructor. They are showing an ability to work as a team and are taking pride in what they do."

None of the children have had any experience with horses before starting the project and Bill Clark, Director of Schools' Services, CEA@Islington, said: "The children who have taken part in this project have really benefited from the professional experience and tuition of the Lee Valley Riding School and The British Horse Society. They have been able to combine learning with enjoyment and I am sure they will always remember this experience.

"We welcome any initiatives that improve the educational aspirations and achievements of Islington pupils and support this project whole-heartedly."

Councillor Laura Willoughby, Islington Council, added: "We all know the benefits of trying out new activities with new people in new areas, in finding new perspectives and motivation in life, and it is fantastic that these young people are having this opportunity.

"It is wonderful that they are having the chance to try new sports and fun activities that we just don't have the room for in Islington. I am very pleased that those who have tried it so far have found it so helpful."

The pilot project in Islington is part funded by the Cripplegate Foundation, a trust set up to improve the quality of life for Islington residents, and the BHS is aiming to extend the pilot project to other BHS Approved Riding Schools and Local Authority Schools throughout England over the next few years.


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