The Avon Centre - nature and equine based charity

by Diana in Bristol, Bristol City, United Kingdom

The Avon Centre - nature and equine based charity


Gift Aid
+ est. £8171.25
£100,000 stretch target 18 days left
113% 408 supporters
Keep what you raise – this project will receive all pledges made by 23rd December 2021 at 11:04am

We urgently need to raise funds to continue to deliver our life changing activities and prevent the permanent closure of the Avon Centre

by Diana in Bristol, Bristol City, United Kingdom

New stretch target

If we raise additional funds this will enable us to further develop new activities, broaden the people we are able to support and generate new new income streams from these activities to help us become financial sustainable. This will not only allow us to support more people with additional needs, but will help secure are future which is so important for the people we support.

We have 6 weeks to raise enough funds to remain open and to continue supporting over 300 disabled children and adults to access the therapeutic benefits of spending time with horses and in nature.

Please consider donating whatever you are able, purchasing a reward or undertaking a fundraiser on our behalf. Every penny really does count and with your help we can secure the future of the Avon Centre for the benefit of children and adults with additional needs. 


The Avon Centre is a charity which supports children and adults with additional needs through equine and nature based activities. We are based just outside Bristol and have been operating for 40 years.

Sadly we hav1636631971_1636631970395.pnge been unable to operate for much of the past 18 months due to the Covid lockdowns, whilst still having the costs associated with keeping our horses. Several roles had to be made redundant, which has limited our fundraising ability and our ability to expand our reach and grow our income streams. This has led to a depleted cash balance and the centre is still operating at a financial loss each month. Sadly the centre is at risk of having to permanently close in the coming 4-6 months unless significant funds are raised.

What we do

At The Avon Centre we believe in the power of horses and nature to improve the quality of life for people in our community. For 40 years our charity has boosted the physical, emotional and mental health of disabled children, young people and adults, along with their families, friends and carers. Recently, the impact of the covid pandemic has made life even more difficult for disabled people and it has worsened life for other people too. Loneliness, anxiety, and depression are felt by more people than ever before and local services for mental health are overburdened as a result. 

Every year at The Avon Centre, at least 300 local people ride and care for horses and ponies and they use the green, healing spaces of our land too. All our work is built upon five pillars: Nature, Education, Inclusion, Growth, Horses. Yes, that’s NEIGH! We work with horse and ponies, but for us, people come first. Our staff and volunteers listen and work hard to find what works best for each person, making sure they feel good emotionally as well as physically. With this caring approach at the heart of what we do, our skilled team supports people with differing needs in a range of ways.

We are volunteer led - all of our coaches which run our riding lessons for the disabled are unpaid volunteers.

What are equine assisted activities? 

Simply, non-ridden interactions with ponies and nature. We improve wellbeing by using Mindfulness techniques. People can step away from their everyday lives, decompress, and reinvigorate while being present1636632372_1636632372109.png, real, and authentic. Ponies don’t judge people.

What’s our story? From an epidemic in the 1960’s to the Covid pandemic…

Our charity came to be thanks to the compassion, vision, and tenacity of Stella Saywell, one of the first physiotherapists to be involved in therapeutic riding. Stella was the Head of Physiotherapy at Winford Orthopaedic Hospital and persuaded her consultant to use riding to help in the rehabilitation of some patients that had acquired physical disabilities as a result of contracting Polio. That first step in 1969 was taken in response to the Polio epidemic. Now, our charity finds itself having to respond to the mental and physical challenges presented by a terrible new pandemic – covid 19.  

Our plans

We have plans for broadening our reach in the community and extending our non ridden equine activities. This will enable to increase the number of people we support and vitally grow our income helping us to become financially sustainable. We want to double the number of people we support to 600 each year. 

However we can only achieve this if we are able to keep the charity alive during this unprecedented time.


Who we support and the benefits of our work

We work with people with a range of additional needs. They range in age from 2 to 103.

Our work enables the people we support to 1635945276_rda.jpgspend time outdoors, in nature and with animals. This has a significant positive impact on both physical and mental health. Never has this been more important than over the past 18 months with people suffering wide ranging difficult circumstances in light of Covid.

Riding can help disabled people in many ways: simply sitting up straight on a horse provides physiotherapy and core strengthening exercise without the need to coordinate or understand complex movements. Improved core strength means better balance, improved mobility in everyday life.

As a direct impact of Covid and pro-longed lockdowns, it has become more apparent than ever that we need to broaden our reach in the community and offer equine assisted activities and support to a wider population, many of whom have greatly suffered in the last 18 months of the pandemic.


Please support our campaign to help prevent us from closing and to be able to continue delivering our life changing work. 


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£250 or more

3 of 6 claimed

Have a cuddle and pony petting session with Scooby

Have a 45 minute (non-ridden) session at the Avon Centre with our miniature Shetland pony Scooby. You will have the chance to give Scooby cuddles, groom him and take him for a walk in the beautiful countryside setting of the Avon Centre. Sessions will be limited to 2 people per session.

£15 or more

25 of 60 claimed

Pack of ten illustrated horse Christmas cards

A pack of ten illustrated horse Christmas cards. Note donations for these will need to be received by Sunday 5th December in order that they can be posted in time for Christmas.

£25 or more

One unit of biodiversity/carbon offsetting

One unit of biodiversity/carbon offsetting using our abundant natural resources at the Avon Centre.

£30 or more

15 of 100 claimed

The Avon Centre branded t-shirt

An Avon Centre branded t-shirt available in childrens and adults sizes and in any colour.

£50 or more

2 of 5 claimed

30 minute session on horse simulator

Visit The Avon Centre for a 30 minute session on the horse simulator with one of our RDA coaches

£100 or more

0 of 98 claimed

Have your name inscribed on our supporters mural

We are having a horse mural painted on a wall at The Avon Centre by talented local artist Vic (VM Fine art and illustration). The mural will also be a supporters wall with names inscribed on the painting.

£500 or more

1 of 50 claimed

Company name included on horse illustration

Have your company name included on a horse typography illustration to be drawn by a local artist and mounted at the Avon Centre to celebrate the re-brand of the Centre.

£5,000 or more

1 of 25 claimed

Have your name on a plaque on a stable door

Have your name put on a plaque and mounted on a stable door at the Avon Centre

£10,000 or more

1 of 2 claimed

Have a horse named after you

Have one of the Avon Centre horses named after you

£30 or more

20 of 20 claimed

Have a bird or bat box placed in your name

We will place a bird or bat box somewhere in our wooded areas in your name

£100 or more

10 of 10 claimed

Have a tree planted in your name

We will plant a tree on our land in your name. Nature activities are a significant part of what we do at the centre and tree planting is part of this.

£100 or more

1 of 1 claimed

A commissioning of a pet portrait of your choice

Have a painting commissioned of your favourite pet by local artist VM Fine art and illustration

£100 or more

1 of 1 claimed

Name our horse simulator

Choose a name for our horse simulator which is used in many of our therapy sessions

£200 or more

2 of 2 claimed

Have your name on horse typography illustration

Have you name included on a horse typography illustration to be drawn by local artist and mounted at the Avon Centre to celebrate the re-brand of the Centre

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