A RIDING stables that has helped raise many thousands of pounds for charity has reached crisis point in its struggle to survive during the coronavirus pandemic.

LGB Equestrian runs an annual sponsored ride for Cancer Research UK and supports other charities but now itself desperately needs financial help from the community.

The owners of the riding school, livery yard and events centre in Halebourne Lane, Chobham, fear it might soon have to fold.

“The past 11 months have been horrendous and very stressful,” said Gayle Bulmer, who set up LGB Equestrian with her daughter Lauren six years ago. “We are hugely in debt due to not being able to operate for part of the year, and then only being able to operate on a very low level when we were able to open.

“We have been badly affected by the Government restrictions and because many of our clients have been isolating. While we fully support the restrictions, we are in financial crisis.”

She said her mental health had suffered due to the responsibility of continuing the business. The struggle had been made harder by her and her husband Robin both having to spend time in hospital being treated for COVID-19.

Last summer, LGB’s annual Surrey Ride 4 Life sponsored hack across Chobham Common raised more than £18,000 for the cancer charity, and the event has brought in at least £16,000 in previous years. The centre is home to the Samber Riding for the Disabled group and runs its own riding sessions and work placements for people with special needs.

“We also attend fetes, run own a pony days and hold shows and clinics through the year,” said Gayle. “The outgoings of such a business are high and we had just started to turn a very small profit to be put back into the business when COVID struck.

“My husband and my daughter Grace are both disabled, hence my passion for providing affordable riding for all, and my passion for providing riding for those with additional needs.

“We have had some wonderful support from clients, family, our resident photographer Ellie Osborne, Samber RDA, staff, sharers, helpers, livery clients, friends, Nick Martin Driving School and our landlords. We wouldn't still be here without them.

“We have received three very small grants but, sadly and without sounding ungrateful, these are a drop in the ocean to what we need to continue running.”

She said the priority was the feeding and welfare of the 30 horses at the centre. Some of the animals had become ill, and emergency care they needed had added to the firm’s costs, when it had no income.

“We appreciate this period has been difficult for everyone, but especially so for all those business with live animals,” added Gayle. “They cannot be boxed up and the staff furloughed. The costs cannot be reduced in any way.”

“We have hay and feed to buy, not to mention farrier, dentist, vaccinations and worming costs, plus rent, electricity, water and wages.”

“I desperately want to still be here when all of our wonderful clients are able to return to riding. Please help us to still be here for our local community. If you are able to offer any support, however small, we would be very grateful.”

LGB Equestrian has set up a GoFundMe page to support the horses it provides for Samber RDA. To make a donation, visit www.gofundme.com/f/support-horses-used-for-samber-rda-during-covid19

It also has an Amazon wish list where desperately needed equestrian equipment and supplies can be bought for the stables. Visit https://www.amazon.co.uk/hz/wishlist/genericItemsPage/

Information for making a donation through a bank transfer can be found at www.lgbequestrian.com