A SUFFOLK equestrian centre is celebrating its 15th anniversary after surviving the recession, a major fire, two burglaries and two outbreaks of disease.
Bardwell Manor Equestrian Centre was set up by Sharon Dawson in 1996 after she ran a small riding school in Elmswell.
The Bardwell centre, which is approved by the Association of British Riding Schools, now has 26 horses and ponies of different sizes, and offers riding facilities for more than 150 people from the area each week.
Sharon, 40, said: “It is always very challenging to make a profitable business from a riding school and we are delighted to have made it to our 15th birthday.
“We have seen numerous other establishments open and close during this time.
“Much of our success is down to our incredibly loyal customers. Some of my customers have been with me since the school opened.”
The centre has two qualified instructors who run riding lessons in the indoor and outdoor arenas. Bardwell also offers livery and has recently launched a scheme offering riders the chance to holiday with their horses at the centre.
Not only has the riding school managed to stay afloat during a rough recession, but it has also survived a major fire which destroyed the hay barn in 1997.
Sharon also lost all of her tack to thieves who targeted the centre twice, and made it through two outbreaks of strangles disease.
Sharon, who met her husband at the centre when he started riding lessons, said: “The school has survived many difficult times over the years.
“Along with our faithful customers we put the school’s ability to survive down to being adaptable and looking for new business opportunities. We are constantly looking to improve and upgrade the facilities at the centre.”
Sharon hopes that the centre will be able to secure some funding for future improvements from the 2012 Olympic legacy.
But in the mean time she is getting ready to celebrate the centre’s 15th anniversary in style.
She is holding a special event on August 29, from 11.30am to 4pm, at Bardwell Manor Equestrian Centre. The Spirit Arabian Stud will be putting on a display.
Sharon said: “I can’t wait to see customers, past and present, at the party and am looking forward to continued success in the future.”
For more information go to www.bardwell-equestrian.co.uk or telephone 01359 233010.