Lockdown has brought together neighbours in a way perhaps no other crisis could have.
An appeal for help in feeding the animals of Vauxhall City Farm (VCF) has sparked a response from campaigners who support hunting, Countryside Alliance, based just 200 yards away.
The result was the hunting community providing transport and grazing for some of the farm’s horses and ponies used for Riding for the Disabled.
VCF hosts up to 300,000 people a year – but virtually overnight after lockdown its income dropped 80 per cent – meaning a huge threat to its riding lessons for the disabled, mobile farms, education and training workshops.
The farm also had to move its animals out of London and pay for them to be in livery during the crisis – so the alliance offered to use its network to find a country farm which could put them up.
The result was free grazing for five horses and ponies at the home of a supporter of the Hursley Hambledon Hunt.
Head of hunting at the Countryside Alliance, Polly Portwin, said: “Hunt supporters and members of hunt staff have been incredibly generous.
“All of us are going to be affected in one way or another by Covid-19, so we are particularly grateful to all of those people who kindly responded after we reached out.
“One of the many strengths of the hunting community is that it pulls together to support those who need it the most during times of crisis.”
The charity’s two Shetland ponies were transported back to the farm in Vauxhall yesterday by Bill Bishop, huntsman of the Crawley and Horsham Hunt, where they are being looked after by the charity’s staff.
The alliance has also made arrangements for the other horses and ponies to be transported to Vauxhall when it is possible.
VCF chief executive Monica Tyler said: “The impact of the Covid-19 outbreak has had a devastating effect on the farm.
“I would like to thank the Countryside Alliance and the hunting community for their generosity in helping us to transport the horses to their new residence for the foreseeable future.
“This type of support means a lot to us and we are very grateful that you were able to help us in this way.”
The urban farm welcomes people from all communities – including children and disadvantaged people – and enables them to experience nature to enhance their health, well-being and life chances while using the setting to provide a wide range of educational, recreational and therapeutic support programmes and activities.
The Countryside Alliance has since offered similar support to the Riding For The Disabled and other charities that may be enduring similar difficulties throughout these unprecedented times.
To support VCF fundraising, click here.
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