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Washington Riding Centre introduces new sensory trail with the help of volunteers from local housebuilder

A team of volunteers from a local housebuilder have helped to transform a local riding centre’s empty field into a sensory trail for the community to enjoy.

Ten members of the technical team at Barratt Developments North East volunteered a day of their time to help Washington Riding Centre build a sensory trail as part of the housebuilder’s ‘Donate a Day’ initiative. Employees helped clear weeds, prepared garden beds and planters, and planted flowers and shrubs to transform an empty field into a wheelchair accessible trail for riders and walkers alike.

Barratt Developments North East encourages its employees to support a charity of their choice as part of its ‘Donate A Day’ programme. All employees are able to pledge a fully paid day of volunteering to a local cause each year, which plays a part in ensuring the housebuilder continues to support the communities in which it builds.

Barratt Developments North East employee, Karen Velleman, heard about Washington Riding Centre and its mission to provide a safe and equal environment for non-disabled and disabled people together and suggested the team volunteer their time to help build the trail.

The centre provides riding lessons to around 130 children and adults with a range of disabilities and special educational needs each month, and the sensory trail will serve to stimulate the senses and improve their experience with features that visitors can see, touch, smell and hear. In addition to this, Washington Riding Centre delivers a ‘Disability Awareness Through Animals’ workshop in schools to give children the opportunity to get up close to horses and learn about them, their environment, and their care, as well as to raise disability awareness and encourage volunteering and care within the community.

Paula Archer, Chair of Washington Riding Centre said: “We’re very grateful to the volunteers at Barratt Developments for helping us with the progress of the sensory trail. It will make a big impact to the individuals we provide lessons to by giving them an enriching experience which will develop their senses.”

Stephen Wooldridge, Technical Director at Barratt Developments North East, added: “The Washington Riding Centre does a great deal of work to support local people with disabilities and special education needs. We are always looking for ways to help the communities in which we build and myself and the team were pleased to be able to aid the centre in creating the sensory trail. We hope the trail will improve the experiences of visitors and it continues to provide a safe and positive environment.”