Hartpury has been pitching in and forking out to help a local charity change the lives of young people in Gloucester and open their eyes to a world of new opportunities.
The College has for a long time worked in partnership with St James’ City Farm and Riding School – both providing students for work experience and as volunteers and on joint community projects – but it has now stepped up its support, both financially and practically.
The City Farm has just seen its’ coffers swelled by Hartpury sponsorship to the tune of £5000 – a sum that will cover its riding school’s feed bill for a year – and there are plans in the pipeline for students and staff to get stuck in helping the charity to make a difference.
Members of the College’s grounds team will head to the City Farm next week to help with the specialist job of pruning some trees, avoiding the cost of tree surgeons impacting on the charity’s funding. Local company, Ermin Plant, will provide the necessary cherry picker free of charge.
Hartpury’s Agriculture degree students are also gearing up to fix the fences. The College also recently helped out with providing transport for young people being supported by the charity to be able to enjoy an outdoor adventure weekend.
Imran Atcha, Co-ordinator of St James City Farm and Riding School in Tredworth, Gloucester, said: “We’ve always enjoyed welcoming Hartpury’s animal diploma students to the farm for their work experience but, over the past couple of years, there has been increasing support from the college and we’ve developed really excellent links.
“The college has helped us with providing equine expertise and advice for our riding school and its students and staff have helped with construction projects, including advice on building an arena and a specialist leveller.
“We’ve also been able to take young people who live in an urban area to the college to see Hartpury’s incredible facilities out in the countryside, including the beef cattle on the farm, the dairy and the newborn lambs, which they had the chance to handle. We also arranged a visit to the equine centre and children had great fun trying out the horse simulator.
“Many of them will never have experienced anything like that before and it was a huge eye-opener for them. It’s certainly inspired many of them to want to come to Hartpury to study one day. In fact, some of them have already applied!
“We’re thrilled that this support is set to continue, not only the tree pruning and fence fixing, but in the form of the College’s generous sponsorship. This funding will free up donations to provide even more opportunities for the children and volunteers.
“Our aim is to give young people from the city a chance to learn all about the leisure, educational, community and career prospects through farming, and the college's pro-active involvement with their amazing facilities and huge array of people with different skills is a massive boost for our community project.
A Hartpury student and graduate were instrumental in setting up the riding school, which is giving more people who lives miles from the countryside the chance to ride and learn about horses.
The centre has not only secured their council licence but also been awarded British Horse Society approval. This enables the centre to encourage and support riders to take British Horse Society qualifications, which will help them increase their knowledge and ensure they meet industry standards if they then want to go on to work with horses or study for an equine diploma or degree.
Around 40 equine students from Hartpury with ambitions to become riding instructors have also been involved with coaching local people at the riding school. They have taught a range of lessons to clients and workers at the charity organisation, taking them through everything from lead rein to delivering individual private lessons for adults, home educated students and children.
Many of the animal management students who originally came to the charity on a work placement have stayed on as volunteers.
Hartpury Principal, Russell Marchant, said: “St James’ City Farm and Riding School is a fantastic charity that makes such a difference to children in Gloucestershire.
“Their values align so closely with ours – opening young people’s eyes to the wonders of animals and agriculture – and we’re delighted to be able to continue to strengthen our links with them and provide funding and practical support that will enable them to keep up their great work.”