June 2021

Specialist Power are Proud Sponsors of the Elisabeth Curtis Riding Centre


Specialist Power sponsorship board on the stable front

A wonderful story that started with two elderly ponies and a donkey and ends with local businesses helping to keep a riding centre for disabled children in Bedfordshire going after lockdown.

Way back in 1975, two elderly ponies were given to Bromham Hospital and with the help of a donkey, hospital staff and volunteers began giving riding lessons to a small number of patients.

Interest quickly grew, other ponies were borrowed, and in the autumn of that year, the riding transferred to the Box End School of Equitation, Kempston.

Using ponies brought by their owners from all around the county and the riders being ferried from Hospital to Riding School by minibus, the number of riders increased steadily and a year later the riding school had progressed to being a full member group of the RDA – the Riding for the Disabled Association.

Nearly 50 Years Later

Jump forward nearly 50 years later, the Elisabeth Curtis Centre in Bromham, Bedfordshire is a growing charity providing riding facilities for 50 disabled children with 7 full time horses and staff with a waiting list of more than another 50 children.

Officially opened on 19th April 1983 by HRH The Princess Royal, President of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), the current site sits in the rural village of Bromham just outside Bedford.

The Centre was named after Mrs Elisabeth Curtis who, as Chairman of the Eastern Region RDA, had been closely involved with the development of riding at Bromham Hospital. It was hoped that the Riding Centre would be a fitting memorial to all her work for the RDA. 

Riding for the Disabled Association logo
An Elizabeth Curtis resident alongside one of their horses

This site is now home to 9 stables with facilities and staff that provide local disabled children with much needed therapy, fitness, skill development and the opportunity to achieve through the use of horses and ponies.

Services offered by the centre include therapeutic riding which encourages core strength and good posture, confidence, new skills and most importantly 'fun". They also provide horse-care courses and 'tea with a pony' sessions for those who can't physically ride.

How Covid Affected the Riding School

As a registered charity, the Elisabeth Curtis Centre is operated purely by volunteers. All coaches, side walkers, facility maintenance, fundraising, helpers, gardeners do it for love of the centre. In fact they only pay for grooms to come on to site twice daily to look after the ponies so are always on the lookout for new volunteers to help out.

In March 2020, in line with government and RDA UK advice the centre ceased riding activities and went into lockdown with the rest of the country. Efforts were focused on protecting the employees of the centre, ensuring the horses continued to receive expert care and that the centre was maintained for a time when they could return.

Unfortunately, like most registered charities in the UK over this two year period, funding for the centre was reduced significantly and things became tough. So, to help the centre survive and continue to provide the levels of care that disabled children in Bedfordshire rely on, the ‘Buy a Brick’ campaign was launched by the trust.

And that is where we come into this story

A group of residents standing in front of one of the stables
A student on one of the horses enjoying a ride

Specialist Power are Proud Platinum Sponsors

As a local business based in Bedfordshire, we heard about the great work that the Elisabeth Curtis riding school carries out and wanted to help. So, in April this year we were delighted to become a Platinum sponsor of one of the stables for two years.

Our sponsorship covers the cost of keeping one horse with a stable, food, staffing and everything required to allow the horse to keep supporting children with their development.

“As managing director of Specialist Power and a Bromham resident, I felt it important to help a fantastic local facility that does so much for the disabled children of Bedfordshire. The pandemic has been tough on so many so to be able to help the Elisabeth Curtis Centre was special to me”


In fact, with the help of local people and businesses, the centre continues to grow and will later this year welcome the Waverly Driving Centre. The site on Chestnut Avenue will be the new home of this fantastic carriage driving charity and will work together to grow their facilities and offering to the local community.

Waverley Driving Group will be joining them on site within the next couple of months to begin set-and operation with a view to offering carriage driving services fully by next Spring.

50th Anniversary Celebrations

With the onset of their 50th anniversary around the corner, and the centres waiting list for new participants only growing, they are beginning to investigate whether they could build a new, larger, purpose-built facility on their current site to really expand what they can offer to the disabled and special needs community.  Check out their website for updates on 'Project50'.

You can check out all the great work that the Elisabeth Curtis Centre do at their website - www.elisabethcurtiscentre.co.uk

You can also watch this great short film where the riding centre featured on a recent ITV Anglia News piece.

Richard Yeeles

Managing Director

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