PEOPLE at a special learning learning centre can get into the saddle or take a trip in a horse cart thanks to a £65,000 grant for an Olympic size riding area.

Stanmore-based children and families centre Ravenswood Village has been given the grant by The Petplan Charitable Trust to build an all-weather outdoor riding area for the people of Ravenswood Village.

Ravenswood Village, formed in 1953 by four families, improves the level of care for people with learning disabilities.

The village is now home to 175 people with learning disabilities and is run by Norwood, a children and families charity.

Four horses, which are trained to be ridden and to pull carts, are kept in the stable area of the village.

The carts help wheelchair users to take part in the riding activities.

Rod Clay, director of Ravenswood Village, said: "We believe that the residents are entitled to the same range of choices, whatever the level of ability or wherever an individual has come from.

"The activities at the village allow for everyone to lead a full happy life and there are many residents that derive enjoyment and benefit from the horse riding.

"The grant from The Petplan Charitable Trust has allowed for the riders to use the large amount of land we have to its full extent and the safety issue obviously provides all the members of staff with peace of mind."

The oldest resident at Ravenswood is 84 and the youngest is 11. The village has a coffee shop, art studios, computer centre, textile rooms, a hydrotherapy pool and a working garden.

David Simpson, chairman of trustees for the Petplan Trust, said: "We at Petplan Charitable Trust believe that animals can have an important impact on the development of children both mentally and emotionally.

"The donation that the trust provided for Ravenswood Village will go some way to making sure that the children are able to enjoy riding the horses in a safe environment for many years to come."