The Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson MSP today visited a specialist riding therapy centre which helps people with disabilities improve their health and general well-being.
Riding therapy is beneficial to people with a wide range of disabilities from physical to learning and behavioural. These disabilities include Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Downs Syndrome and Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
The Presiding Officer met volunteers and participants at Muirfield Riding for the Disabled’s headquarters in West Fenton, North Berwick.
He toured the facility’s indoor and outdoor arenas and viewed the exciting plans for the extension of the facilities which will include a dedicated physiotherapy room; training rooms for volunteers and a viewing galley for parents and carers.
The therapy at Muirfield provides not only physical benefits but also emotional rewards to people in need. Participants are encouraged to look after their horses and take part in various games and exercises designed to improve their confidence and self esteem.
Susan Law, Chairwoman at Muirfield, said: “The organisation’s primary aim is to help people with disability but it also helps its volunteers by giving them a valuable volunteering opportunity whatever their age or experience.
“They all bring different life skills to the operation. It is incredible what a highly motivated group of different people can achieve when they share a common goal.”
The centre provides specialist riding therapy classes free of charge to more than 200 young people and adults in and around East Lothian.
Mr Fergusson said: “It has been fascinating to learn about the life-changing work provided here at Muirfield to so many people in the local community.
“They are rightly proud of this wonderful centre – which just 20 years ago started off with two borrowed ponies, a field and a handful of helpers – and what it has achieved to date. I wish it every success for the future.”
Mr Fergusson visited the centre as part his summer programme of visits to engage with communities across Scotland to mark the 10th anniversary of the Scottish Parliament.
Gill Morrison, Group Organiser at Muirfield, said: “It is wonderful our volunteers’ on-going hard work and commitment has been recognised by this visit by the Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer.
“We are delighted to have had the chance to show Mr Fergusson around our facility on his visit to mark the first decade of the Scottish Parliament.”