THE Oldham & District Riding Club (ODRC) has smashed its fundraising target for an annual sponsored horse ride helping to raise vital funds for the North West Air Ambulance (NWAA).
The 12-mile trek saw riders traverse various terrains with their faithful hoofed friends, using the National Trail and local bridleways around Saddleworth, Mossley and Stalybridge after starting out at Friezland Arena.
Founded in 1999, the NWAA is a lifeline for critically injured patients who would not otherwise survive, which delivers advanced medical care before transporting them to hospital.
But the effects of the pandemic have had a devastating impact on the service, which has lost roughly £71,000 in revenue each month since the first national lockdown.
NWAA relies on public and corporate donations to raise the £9.5 million a year to operate, but store closures, cancelled fundraisers and postponed events have seen funds dip significantly.
So desperate is the situation that the charity launched an emergency appeal in February 2021 asking the public to help them stay in the skies.
Frances Taylor, who spearheaded this year’s ODRC fundraiser, said: “We have been raising money for the North West Air Ambulance for many years now.
“There’s so many people who owe so much to them, and certainly for us, as horse riders, when we’re out on isolated trails they are the difference between life and death if something should happen.
“They rely solely on donations to operate and unfortunately, because of the pandemic, we couldn’t do our annual fundraiser in 2020 so this year we wanted to make up for that if we possibly could.
“Nine of us took part in the 12-mile trek, which is quite far for us and for the animals, but we initially set a target of £100 because we weren’t sure what kind of response we would get.
“So far, we have raised over £600 which is the most we have ever raised for the NWAA. It’s just amazing to see that people value what they do as much as us.
“Our fundraiser is still open to donations and we would encourage anyone who can to donate, even just a small amount, as this is one service we cannot afford to lose.”
If you would like to donate to the ODRC fundraiser for the North West Air Ambulance, you can do so by visiting www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ODRC-Sponsored-Ride-2021
Or if you would like to donate direct to the NWAA emergency appeal, text HELPNWAA5 to 70085 to donate £5 (plus rate for one standard message) or visit www.nwaa.net/emergencyappeal