Olympic dressage champion Emile Faurie is one of a number of supporters helping fund a new £50,000 project, which will enable underprivileged children to take up riding.

Thanks to the backing of the Emile Faurie Foundation, the Wooden Spoon charity, Gloucestershire County Council and the approval of Gloucester City Council, a 40x20m arena has now been built at St James City Farm in Gloucester.

It will enable the farm to run a small-scale riding school of its own and offer more children the opportunity to take up riding.

St James City Farm is based in one of the most deprived areas of Gloucester and gives young people the chance to experience the many benefits of the countryside. It also provides an outlet for volunteering, supported through the Police and Crime Commissioner’s fund.

Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl said,

“Well done to everyone at the city farm. It’s taken a few years to get this off the ground, but I never doubted they would get there in the end.”

Emile Faurie, who is unable to attend the launch but due in the New Year for a demonstration, said,

“I am delighted to hear the news that City Farm now has its own Riding facilities. Having supported and funded the Friendship Café Project for a number of years the EFF will be now be able to offer help to more children and to continue to fund their riding at this great new facility!

“I am very sorry not to be able to attend the Opening Ceremony but hope to visit early in 2015 and see the children riding in their new arena – I wish all the staff and children a happy fun day and well done!”

The Friendship Café, a registered youth and community charity which manages the farm, plans to organise fundraising to pay for qualified instructors. Advice is also being provided from the British Horse Society with a view to the school becoming an approved centre and they have also been given use of a trailer by the Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service.

Imran Atcha, charity coordinator, said,

“In Gloucester, we are surrounded by some major equestrian establishments and people, but most children won’t have a clue.

“Given the chance, they would love to be involved and there are great benefits to be found through horses, whether as riders or on the ground. For city children, it gives them direction, confidence and discipline and emphasises caring and respect. This will be the opening for work experience opportunities and volunteering for adults as well.”

Other current projects include growing vegetables and designing and building housing for livestock. A few children are also taken to Hartpury College each year to learn the basics of horse care and riding. However, there has been a long waiting list for this popular project for a number of years.

The arena is due for an official launch on December 3rd by BBC Countryfile presenter Adam Henson in December, and Lord Bathurst, President of the Wooden Spoon Charity, the main financial backer behind the project.