The Queen has taken the unusual step of inviting a group of volunteers to visit the Royal Mews after their campaign to save Teddington’s Park Lane stables which supports Riding for The Disabled, raised over £1.3million in just fifty six days.
The stables have been threatened with closure in May as the landlord was not prepared to extend the lease and wants to sell the premises, which have been independently valued at over £1 million.
Owner, Natalie O’Rourke launched a Save Our Stables crowd-funding campaign to buy the stables which received massive community support but also won backing from TV personality and author Clare Balding, comedian Rob Brydon who lives locally, impressionist Rory Bremner and local television writer Jed Mercurio, creator of Line of Duty and Bodyguard.
A spokesman for The Queen said: “Her Majesty was touched by the enthusiasm of the campaign and wanted to reward the volunteers with a memorable experience.”
Stables volunteer Bess Limmer, aged 17 and her mother Caitlin had written to The Queen asking her for ideas about how to save the stables and explaining how important they were for the local community, especially as a Riding for The Disabled centre.
The campaign created a massive wave of support with local and national TV coverage and donations arriving everyday through the online crowd funder scheme as well as cash donations in envelopes from abroad and pocket money from children, who use the stables
The letter from The Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace, the Crown Equerry, Colonel Toby Browne wrote: “The Queen has asked me to reply and was delighted to hear that your amazing campaign has raised the money necessary.
“As part of our recognition of the hard work of all of the team at the stables and in particular the volunteers such as your daughter Bess I would like to extend an invitation to visit us at the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace when circumstances allow. It would be a pleasure to show you how we look after and manage the horses who play such an important part in our work.”
The letter says it could entertain up to 12 volunteers for the visit.
Natalie O’Rourke said: “This is a like a modern day fairy tale. I cannot believe that The Queen has responded in this way. This is fantastic recognition for all the volunteers and they really deserve it. They are the really important people who keep us going, mucking out every day in all weather – it’s unbelievable.”
She added: “We need to stay in our current home so our participants without sight can get to us on public transport. If we were tucked away in a different location those that need us most would not be able to reach us and would become more socially isolated.
“We are a social hub for many with additional needs who come to the stables for a horsey fix, be that riding, carriage driving, grooming, jobs around the yard or just sharing secrets with their trusted 4 legged friends.
“We call ourselves the community stables because we’re here for everybody. The same way that anybody can use the library or the swimming pool, we are here for everybody that wants to get involved.”