Our History

Timeline

1975

It started with two elderly ponies and a donkey

Two elderly ponies were given to Bromham Hospital and with the help of a donkey, hospital staff and volunteers began giving riding lessons to half a dozen patients.  At first, riding was limited to one morning a week in the hospital grounds.  Interest quickly grew, other ponies were borrowed and, in the autumn, the riding transferred to Box End School of Equitation, Kempston.

1976

Bromham group joins RDA

The early years were tough, using assorted ponies brought by their owners from all around the county and the riders being ferried from Hospital to Riding School by minibus. Weathering the difficulties admirably, the number of riders increased steadily and by 1976 the Bromham Group had progressed to being a full member group of the Riding for the Disabled Association. 

1977

Welcome Miffy

Up until 1977 the Bromham Group ( as it was called) solely relied on ponies brought in by their owners until the group were able to make their first purchase, Miffy.

1978

Plans for expansion

In 1978 ‘Plans for Expansion’ were put into operation.  The aim ‘to build a covered school on ground leased from Bromham Hospital’. The long-term objective becoming a Riding Centre which could be used by several groups during the week, and which would be a real asset to the County as a whole. The mammoth task of fund raising had begun.  The ‘Supporters Club’ was inaugurated at the Annual General Meeting.  Wine and Cheese parties, Dog Shows, Horse Shows, Barn Dances, Fashion Shows, Jumble Sales, Coffee Mornings and a Sponsored Pub Ride being just some of the organised events.  At the 1978 Country Fair, held at Milton Keynes Bowl, eighty pounds was raised from pony rides!

1982

The first ride in the indoor school

 By 1981 the Group were riding two mornings per week increasing the numbers of riders from 25 to 40.  Riders, ponies and the coffee were still having to be transported to Kempston.  Continuous fund raising covered not only the running costs of the group but also the building of the indoor school which was used for the first time on 29th September 1982.

1982

The “Elisabeth Curtis Centre” is born

On the 1st October 1982, the Bromham Group amalgamated with the Glenbrook Group, which had been formed at premises of Glenbrook Farm, and began operating as one group under the name of the Elisabeth Curtis Centre For Disabled Riders. The two groups had liaised with each other in the past, sharing the ‘old blue transit van’ and some of the Bromham ponies being accommodated at Glenbrook.

1983

The official opening

The Official Opening of The Elisabeth Curtis Centre for Disabled Riders was performed by H.R.H. The Princess Royal, President of the Riding for the Disabled Association, on April 19th 1983.  Many of our riders took part in a demonstration for Princess Anne, and special rosettes and a video made it truly a day for all to remember.

1983

The office and toilets are built

November 1983 saw the completion of an extension which was to house the toilets and office/tack room at a cost of £10,000.

1988

The stable block is complete

In 1988 we had raised a further £44,000 in order to build a stable block for nine ponies with a feed store attached. This block opens directly into the School, so once ponies are in from the fields there is no need for anyone to get wet!

1997

Could this be the end?

The Centre was at a turning point in its history as the hospital in whose grounds it stands closed in 1997. Changes were bound to take place. The ex-hospital ground was designated new building land and we now have various types of housing around the Centre. Bryant Homes, the developer, most kindly gifted our grazing fields to the Centre, for as long as it remains a charity to enable the disabled to ride.

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