Princess Royal visits Leeds equestrian centre

HRH Princess Anne chats with riders at the Middleton Park  Equestrian Centre, Leeds.

HRH Princess Anne chats with riders at the Middleton Park Equestrian Centre, Leeds.

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It was familiar territory to the Princess Royal...horses, stables and a riding centre she had visited twice before.

She joined staff and clients of Middleton Park Equestrian Centre in south Leeds to celebrate their 20th anniversary.

The princess, a former Olympic horse rider herself, officially opened the centre in 1993 and returned 10 years later to launch an extension, so this was her third visit.

“We were going to celebrate our anniversary anyway,” said deputy manager Adele Smith, “and one of our trustees suggested we should invite Her Royal Highness as well.”

Not all the centre’s 250 disabled clients could be accommodated and so names had to be drawn out of a hat. The lucky ones were aged from six to 60.

The princess was introduced to a parade of instructors and volunteers led by Cathy Cook, coordinator for the Riding for the Disabled Association.

“She asked each one about how long they had been here and what they did,” said Cathy. “One of our girls had met her on her two previous visits.”

The princess presented rosettes to the clients as mementoes of the day and she spent considerable time chatting to blind rider Anne Bennett, 57, of East Ardsley.

“She asked me how I controlled the horse,” said Anne, who has ridden since 1993.

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