Uist Community Riding School was recently awarded £3000 by The Western Isles Lottery for the much-needed renovation of their Club Room.
This has allowed them to install heating, lighting, new flooring and storage as well as decorate and install furniture to make it a warm inviting space to be used for a wide range of activities at the riding school.
With the additional local donations they received, they were able to stretch this to cover the purchase of a mechanical horse to allow riders to practice balance and partake in more indoor activities when the weather is poor.
The Riding School was initially established in 1974 and aptly named the Army Saddle Club. It was intended for use by service personnel and their families and was later opened up to the public. In 1998 the community took over the club and transformed the local, by then empty, swimming pool into an indoor arena. The original swimming pool’s flooring tiles are still in situ – the only indication of the current arena’s previous use.
The current facilitity, based at the East Camp in Benbecula, now consists of a reception, a storage area for hats and equipment, a Club Room and a stable block. Between 10 – 20 regular enthusiasts attend the club every Saturday. Riding lessons are taught as required from Tuesdays to Saturdays and the facility is very busy with tourists booking beach rides throughout the summer months. Although self-sustaining, the facility requires further upgrading works to be carried out.
The two full-time staff from the riding school expressed their thanks and explained that this contribution had allowed them to expand their range of activities with their Saturday club, offering study space for their NC students, bringing together staff and volunteers in person rather than online for meetings and has allowed new plans for a mum and tots group.
Jemma MacVicar, who helps UCVO (Uist Council of Voluntary Organsations) manage the Western Isles Lottery across the area, said: “We are delighted to have been able to support this fantastic community cause and look forward to seeing what more they have planned for the future”.
The renovated club room
Uist Community Riding School Staff Shirley and Gordon with the magnificent Monty
Local riders with their horses on the beach