Shelley News

Welcome to The Shelley Centre’s 12 month rolling update of past, present and future events for every one that has an interest in the activities of The Shelley Centre for Therapeutic Riding.


2021MayBHnews1May Bank Holiday Walk (2nd May) -  ‘Stride Out For Shelley’

Thank you to all the supporters who took part in this year’s charity walk. It was very well attended, the weather was perfect, and the route was enjoyable.

Thanks to the efforts of the fund raising team there were wonderful refreshments available on the walkers’ return. People were genuinely glad to be able to mix and chat (at a safe distance) whilst relaxing in the yard, there was a lovely atmosphere.

The whole escapade raised £1,190 thanks to generous donations and enthusiastic plant buyers all of which helped boost our coffers. We had 80 adult walkers and children also lent their support. The youngest participant was a 2 week old girl! Next youngest are the 2.5 year old twins, Eliot and Theo, seen here carefully fuelling up on cookies before setting off (on foot.)

Parys and Tilly gave up their field for car parking, we have never seen it so full of vehicles!

The route took in some lovely country - the bluebells were in flower.


February - Better news

The Management Committee met on 24th February and one agenda item was how to reopen the centre for normal business.

The decision made is that we will be opening a week after our schools go back (to allow our school children time to get used to their routines once again) this will mean Monday 15th March for us.

Our adult riders should return then as well.

However, previous restrictions will still be in place, so please wait to be contacted by your own Coach who will have considered which riders would best suit these restrictions or benefit the most from just the 2 weeks’ riding therapy before the Easter holidays begin.

Small relief, but its a start!


If you are in need of an equine ‘fix’ visit the RDA’s website where you will find many activities to keep you occupied: and look for ‘Just For Fun’


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11th January – 12th February (please see above)
Half Term 15th – 19th February
22nd February – 26th March

As before, please wait to be contacted by your Coach before you turn up.
Whilst the above dates are the plan, our situation may have changed over the next month.


November and December News:

2020DecNews3As our current lockdown comes to an end the Management Committee is hoping to reopen the Centre to our riders. However The RDA National Office will have guidelines for us to follow.

If we cannot open up immediately, may we wish you all a very special Christmas this year, and a much happier 2021.

Friday 11th September 2020 - Our BIG day when HRH the Princess Royal, Patron of the Riding for the Disabled Association, paid us a visit to mark the 30th birthday of The Shelley Centre. Greeted at the entrance by our two landlords, Jane Crowe and Andrew Scott, with our President, Val Cadman, she then went on to meet the rest of the team escorted by our Chairman Jan Derbyshire.

Lyn Bensusan took a demonstration lesson with Millie Smith riding Bryn, Jannifer Hammock Sheen riding  Parys and Ruth Snowling riding Alfie.

HRH met the Coaches and had time to chat with them all before watching Mia Hermon riding on Ebony, our simulator horse

She awarded Long Service certificates to the following volunteers:
Lyn Bensusan, 35 years; Fiona Cranston, 35 years; Marion Lindsey Smith 30 years; Diane Godfrey 30 years; Anne MacWillson 30 years; Patricia Bazley White 30 years; Jan Derbyshire 25 years.
6 riders received certificates for their long attendance: Ruth Snowling 30 years; Rebecca Page 25 years and the Asdan Award; Evie Cooke 25 years; Rebecca Jackaman 22 years and Gold Horse Care Award; Ross Heward 23 years and Jackie Gosling 15 years.

Martha Evans presented the Princess with flowers.

The restrictions imposed on numbers by Covid-19 meant this was a very unusual official visit and those present were treated to a unique experience.  Social distancing was carefully and easily observed.  We were grateful to the Palace for suggesting this re-scheduled date at relatively short notice and the intense flurry of work done by Jan Derbyshire and Lyn Bensusan in conference with Palace staff and the Lord Lietenant’s Office paid off. The morning went perfectly; the horses were in tip top condition, the premises looked superb, the weather was just right and the volunteers and riders made everyone connected with Shelley deeply proud.

August 2020

It is with great regret that in compliance with directives from the Riding for the Disabled Association head office, we are to severely curtail the service that we offer our riders for the time being.

The Centre is gradually opening up but rides will not commence immediately. Our volunteers will be returning during the week beginning September 7th to receive training in the new methods for keeping everyone virus free.


At present we may offer rides only to those clients who can safely mount, dismount and ride independently.

There are more draconian measures in the pipeline but please be assured that we shall do our best to get your therapy up and running as soon as we can.

March 2020 - Coronavirus disruption.

Regretfully we had to close The Centre for riding from 15th March until further notice.  This has also applied to numerous other much anticipated events included the visit of HRH The Princess Royal who was to have come to The Centre on 8th April to mark our 30th anniversary celebrations. We hope that we will be able to re-schedule this event, as so many riders and helpers were greatly looking forward to meeting her there.

Numerous fund raising events have also had to be cancelled including the April Quiz night (re-scheduled for 10th October), the May Sponsored Walk, the Hadleigh Show, Stratford Hills Horse Trials, the Shelley Show and Dressage Competitions.

The Centre will not be opening for riding before the September term.


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7th December Carol Service. The Centre was festooned with trees, tinsel and lights and a welcoming glass of mulled wine with mince pies and sausage rolls helped to warm everyone on a chilly, but dry, afternoon. The Shetlands led the way down the candlelit road to Shelley Church where the Boxted Methodist Silver Band were playing festive music in the beautifully decorated and warm Church. The Service was led by Revd Jo, and the singing enhanced by the presence of members of Serendipity Choir. Our riders presented 11 lanterns to represent each of the ponies and the Christmas story was read by a rider, parent and helper while the tableau gathered to depict the story. We are very grateful to all those who helped prepare for, took part in, and attended this fitting end to our Autumn term. For pictures see Ebony’s Blog.

23rd November Bingo Evening at Polstead Village Hall. Our first Bingo night held at Polstead Village Hall  proved a huge success, prizes were donated and gift wrapped . If you were a winner you picked a number ,that was your prize,  a pleasant surprise to the winner. Raffle was as always popular with the help of Louise as you can see from the photo. Best dressed lady was Di Godfrey with beautiful decorated tiara, and Fred with his Christmas pudding jumper and hat. Thank you to Mark who was the caller for the evening. A fun time had by all.

12th October A general knowledge quiz at Boxford Village Hall recently was well attended despite the appalling weather. Six rounds of questions and a table quiz. A ploughman’s supper was enjoyed half way through. The winning team from Boxford kindly donated their £100 cash prize back to The Shelley Centre. A huge thank you to them. The event raised an amazing £1228.91.  Thank you to everyone who came and supported this challenging evening.

Pony Day Saturday 5th October. Six riders, and their support team of eleven helpers, were lucky to have a day of warm sunshine in which to look after their pony for the day at Shelley. Hard work was interspersed with plenty of drinks and snacks, until the stables and ponies looked spick and span and we were able to have some fun with gymkhana games.  Very many thanks to all who made this day so enjoyable for the riders.

26th September. The Talk on Plant Propagation by Marc McHearne from Beth Chatto Gardens was both informative and entertaining with details of the history of the gardens as well as a demonstration of plant propagation.  A total of £350 was raised for The Shelley Centre. Many thanks to all who attended and the Fund Raising team for their hospitality.


13th September. We were delighted to welcome 5 members of Fisher Jones Greenwood Solicitors from Colchester who toiled from 8.30am till 4pm clearing, cutting and raking our horses fields. In spite of the heat and the mundane nature of the tasks they retained their enthusiasm and  good humour throughout the day. We are very grateful for their support.

7th July. The Shelley Centre 30th Anniversary Tea Party.  Past and present Helpers, Riders and Supporters, enjoyed each other’s company and a delicious tea in the immaculate gardens of our Landlords Mike and Jane Crowe, to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the opening of The Shelley Centre - as well as the 50th Anniversary of Riding for the Disabled Association. Very grateful thanks to Mike and Jane for inviting us into their garden, the caterers for the splendid refreshments, the Harpist and Flautist for their delightful music and all those who organised and prepared the event, made the ramp to allow access for wheelchair users, and for the beautiful hot weather.

2nd July 2019. Shelley Centre AGM and Barbecue.  Chairman Jan Derbyshire welcomed the 74 members and guests to our 30th Anniversary AGM – including our Landlords Mike and Jane Crowe and the Deputy Mayor of Hadleigh Carolyn Cammack with Councillor Carol Schleip. After the business meeting 17 awards for long service were presented to those who have volunteered for 5,10,15 and 20 years as well as three for 25 years – Jan Derbyshire, Linda Redlich and Jenny Aldir. The Shelley Volunteer of the Year was Louise Reynolds. RDA National’s Over & Above Award was presented to Lyn Bensusan in recognition of her dedication to the smooth running of The Shelley Centre, not only in her job as Stable Manager and her care and love of our equine family, but also all her extra involvement with fundraising, shows, and numerous other events. Her attention to detail, high standards and progressive thinking have helped to make the Centre the very special place that it is. She was warmly applauded by all those present.

The Meeting was followed by a delicious BBQ, prepared by the stalwart team of chefs. Salads and accompanying dishes were provided by the Management Committee. The Strawberries were generously donated by Mike and Lisa Townrow of Assington Fruits. Our grateful thanks to all who helped with this enjoyable social occasion, enjoyed by all on a rather chilly evening.

23rd June. Shelley Show. A beautiful warm day saw 24 riders taking part in the Countryside Challenge Competition. The horses were a credit to Lyn and her team of helpers who had bathed and groomed them to look their best. The riders too were well turned out, plenty of smiles and they all seemed to enjoy the challenging course – with a forest of Christmas trees included to brighten it up. Grateful thanks to the Judge for the day, Suffolk County Coach, Heather Campbell with Charlotte Ditchburn from the Woodbridge Group as her writer. Val and John Cadman judged the Turnout Class and rider with the biggest smile of the day. Full results of the event can be downloaded here in the form of a pdf document.

The special celebration tea, organised by the Tuesday group, was greatly appreciated at the end of the day, and included a splendid cake expertly made and decorated by Debbie Lock to reflect our 30th Anniversary at The Shelley Centre. It did not last long!

Very many thanks to all who helped in so many ways to make both days run smoothly and to be so enjoyable for the riders, their parents and friends. All of us at Shelley are so proud of the riders’ achievements.

18th June. Shelley Centre Dressage Competition took place. 11 riders took part – 3 of whom did both a Walk & Trot and a Walk test. Grateful thanks to the Judge for the day Mary Thornley. All the riders looked splendid, rode their best and enjoyed the competition. Awards were presented on Shelley Show Day.

29th / 30th May. Suffolk Show. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of RDA the Suffolk Region had a presence at the Suffolk Show with Mike Daniels and Carriage Driver Tim Dignon providing three driving demonstrations, over the two days. Several members of The Shelley Group helped man the publicity tent. Thanks are due to Mike Daniels, Ros and Tim Dignon, Clare Phillips, Isabel Lilley and the West Suffolk driving team for their enthusiasm and determination to bring this all together.

24th May. Thirteen engineers from Zurich Insurance Company chose Shelley for their Charity Challenge day and did a huge amount of grass cutting, strimming, gardening, ragwort clearing, gutter cleaning and general tidying up. The Centre looked splendid when they had finished. They each sponsored themselves, and some us added to that, before the Zurich Company matched the sponsorship 300%, so not only did they work very hard on the day but they donated £1,288 to The Centre as well. Our grateful thanks to them and the Zurich Company for their support.

18th May. Hadleigh Show. The wonderful weather brought out the crowds and we sold out of cakes and nearly all the plants, and were awarded 2nd prize for our stand. A new experience for many of the new Fundraising Team so well done to all of them.

28th April. Adam Bensusan ran the London Marathon on behalf of RDA National and The Shelley Centre. Several blisters and “never again” !, but a brilliant result, so very many thanks to Adam and all his sponsors.

27th April. Sadly the Race Night had to be cancelled again through lack of sufficient support. The horses were put back in their stables for another occasion!

Paul Ballard7th April. Paul Ballard (right), the father of one of our Wednesday riders, bravely ran the Greater Manchester Marathon on behalf of The Centre, which he completed in 3hrs 56 minutes. Very many thanks to him, and his firm for matching his sponsorship.

2nd March.  QUIZ NIGHT - Huge thanks to everyone who attended the Quiz Night at Polstead you raised sufficient funds to cover the cost to RDA for Adam Bensusan’s entry to the London Marathon on 28th April.  All monies raised will now go direct to The Shelley Centre so please do sponsor him for this mammoth effort.  This can be done on-line through my or by sending a cheque made out to ‘The Shelley Centre for Therapeutic Riding’ to The Centre, with your name and address and whether or not you would like us to claim Gift Aid on your donation.  PLEASE do encourage him by your support. Many thanks.

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