Visitors to a popular Newcastle riding stables can be assured of a warmer welcome this winter after an insulated steel shutter door was fitted to help keep out the cold.
Stepney Banks Stables was set up in the year 2000 in a former warehouse in Ouseburn to provide local disadvantaged young people with the chance to ride and care for horse and ponies.
Over the years, the condition of the steel shutter door which formed part of the warehouse’s original structure had deteriorated significantly, and was allowing the cold, wind and rain into the building.
The shutter’s location next to the Stables’ indoor arena and cafe meant that conditions were far from comfortable for both riders and visitors who came along to watch from its cafe.
But now, a £2,370 grant from regional employer the Banks Group, via its Banks Community Fund, has closed the door on the Stables’ weather-related problems by allowing them to swap the failing shutter for a new fully-insulated replacement.
And the management team is hoping that this will encourage more people and families to spend more time in what has become a far more welcoming environment.
Stepney Bank Stables is a registered charity and aims to provide opportunities in a safe, family-oriented environment for children and young people growing up in challenging situations to gain both personal confidence, and qualifications and experience that will provide long-term benefits for them.
It has indoor and outdoor arenas, meaning services can be offered all year-round, and provides commercial riding lessons to adults and children to raise the money required to fund its community-focused work.
Christine Harris, fundraiser at Stepney Bank Stables, says: “As well as getting parents coming along to watch their children in the arena, we often get young families visiting our cafe just to pass some time and to give their kids the chance to see and meet our horses.
“With the shutter letting in so much cold, wind and rain in the winter months, our cafe didn’t provide the most conducive environment for young children to spend too much time in, and it had reached the point where we knew we had to do something about it.
“We can hardly believe how much of a difference the new shutter has made – we’ve had loads of positive feedback on how much more welcoming conditions in the arena and cafe are now.
“We direct as much as we can of the money we raise through commercial lessons towards supporting our community-focused activities, and having the Banks Group come on board to meet the cost of the new shutter means we can use the money that it would have cost us on other projects.
“We’re absolutely thrilled with how things have turned out, and we’ll hopefully now get more families visiting the Stables more often to enjoy the improved facilities that we can offer.”
Jeannie Kielty, development relations coordinator at the Banks Group, adds: “Stepney Bank Stables is a well-used and much-loved community facility that makes opportunities available to hundreds of local children that simply wouldn’t otherwise exist, and we hope the support we’ve provided will encourage even more people to spend time there in the future.”
The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks Group projects. Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.