It’s so marvellous to welcome you all to Clarence House.
Now, as the President of Ebony Horse Club and Patron of the British Equestrian Federation, I could not be more thrilled that these two very special organisations are working so closely together – to help Ebony realise its dream of building a riding centre in South London – and that this remarkable project will form part of the equestrian community’s London 2012 Olympic legacy.
When I visited Ebony a couple of years ago, I was enormously impressed and moved by the tireless dedication and passion of this small charity, which over the past 14 years has helped to change the lives of more than 300 young people growing up in the most challenging circumstances in Brixton. I know that many of you here today have experienced the special bond which can exist between horse and human, and especially children – the unconditional friendship, comfort and trust – qualities which many of these children sadly do not encounter in their everyday lives.
Learning to ride also takes a lot of courage, patience, and determination, and it allows children to discover inner strengths they never knew they had, – and, even more importantly, improves their self-confidence. The new riding centre will help Ebony Horse Club to reach out to even more young people and make a huge difference to future generations. With 160 lessons each week and a youth and community volunteering programme, it will become an invaluable asset in an area in desperate need of regeneration.
I would like to thank all of you who have helped Ebony to reach this exciting stage in its history, – and I do hope you will continue to support this unique project, which will help to transform so many more young lives in the very heart of London.