£200,000 riding therapy centre project will allow woodland access for all

Emma Weavil models one of the BOMA electric-powered, off-road wheelchairs with staff and guests at the start of the route.

Emma Weavil models one of the BOMA electric-powered, off-road wheelchairs with staff and guests at the start of the route.

First published in News by

WORK has begun at an ancient woodland that will see it get a £200,000 makeover.

The Hampshire Riding Therapy Centre (HRTC), a charity specialising in riding for children and young adults with disabilities and special needs, has started to develop the site at Fisher’s Pond near Eastleigh to create the ‘Wheely Wanderful Wood’.

Funded by The Veolia Environmental Trust, the year-long project will result in a network of new woodland trails being built, meaning all Hampshire residents will be able to enjoy an outdoor experience in the once-overgrown woodland in Moreland’s Copse and the surrounding areas.

Project director David Le Riche said: “This is an outstanding opportunity for the charity, not only in terms of a lasting environmental legacy for the area, but in creating a scheme with features that can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age or disability.”

Chair of The Veolia Environmental Trust, Oswald Dodds MBE, said: “What is so important about the ‘Wheely Wanderful Wood’ is that it will make it possible for people with disabilities and limited mobility to enjoy something that we often take for granted – a quiet stroll in the woods, all year round.”

The grant will mean the charity can invest in three specialist rugged all-terrain ‘BOMA’ wheelchairs enabling disabled people to experience more of the outdoors as part of ongoing treatment.

A new picnic area will be built, providing a new pathway giving access to the South Downs National Park, and traditional shepherds’ huts will be installed, where people can take part in woodland crafts, including hurdle-making and thatching.

The scheme will also involve developing the site to promote biodiversity, seeing more than 100 new trees and nearly a kilometre of hedges being planted as well as more than 10,000 native and wild plant species.

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