One of London’s oldest remaining stables faces closure unless it can raise £1million.
Ms O’Rourke has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the £1million needed to buy the building before the lease runs out. She said: “We are a really unique charity and a huge part of the community.
“Our location means property prices are very high but horses have been here for hundreds of years and while everything has changed around us the stables have stayed. It does feel like horses are being forced out of the capital and that magic is going.”
The site has a long equestrian history and was a fire station with horse-drawn engines from the early 1800s and has also served as a dairy.
It was reopened 12 years ago as a riding school and charity by Ms O’Rourke after the foot and mouth crisis closed the previous stables in 2008.
It now serves as a Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) and Pony Club centre and employs many staff who have additional needs, as well as running an army of volunteers.
Local authorities from across the capital refer children and adults to the charity for respite. During the first lockdown it started a “tiny pony at your window” campaign, with horses being walked to visit the socially isolated in the local area.
Ms O’Rourke said: “We do respite care for children, young offenders, people with disabilities, the socially isolated and those who would just never be able to afford horse riding otherwise.
“Because of our location close to the train station we get people coming from all over London. It would be devastating if we had to leave now.”
The crowdfunding campaign has so far raised more than £98,000 since it was started on New Year’s Eve.