Rotary swim cash goes to West Suffolk Riding for the Disabled

Cris Barlow, far right, sees the cash presented to West Suffolk RDA by the Rotary Clubs president Jenny Benfield
Picture Mark Westley ANL-161115-223419009
Cris Barlow, far right, sees the cash presented to West Suffolk RDA by the Rotary Clubs president Jenny Benfield Picture Mark Westley ANL-161115-223419009

When Cris Barlow took part in a Rotary Club Swimarathon he said his first £1,000 should go to the West Suffolk Group of Riding for the Disabled.

Cris, who is vice president of the Rotary Club of Bury St Edmunds, swam 40 lengths of the Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre’s pool – that is 1km – in spite of being a 70-year-old who had a leg amputated four years ago after an aneurysm.

He raised £7,000 of the £12,500 the Swimarathon made in March and on Tuesday he was able to see £1,000 presented by the Rotary Club’s president Jenny Benfield to the RDA group at Barrow Hall Stables.

Cris, who is also treasurer of the RDA group, said: “They’re all volunteers and they deserve recognition.

“They need £8,000 a year which is a constant struggle.”

West Suffolk RDA chairman Sue Price said: “The sum of £1,000, as raised by Chris Barlow’s swim, would pay for one pony hire for a year – that is, enable five disabled riders to participate for a year.

“Our riders come from all walks of life and ages range from three-and-a-half to 40-plus.”

Riding has real benefits for the riders beyond the exercise it provides.

Sue said: “The physical benefits of riding are well known, giving disabled people the opportunity for therapy, achievement and fun, enabling riders to develop core strength, stability and co-ordination to support walking and reduce tension and stiffness and promote relaxation.”

The activity also enables riders to feel connected with their peers, the horses they ride and the people who support them, building confidence and self-esteem.

Sue added: “This unconditional relationship with the animal enables the rider to interact, which is often diffucult at home as the atmosphere and focus is different.”