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Anniversary and royal visit to the Pony Centre

Updated: Feb 23

Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre was honoured on 8th February with a visit from HRH The Princess Royal, to mark the occasion of its 35th anniversary. It was a wonderful celebration and Princess Anne seemed very relaxed and at home in the familiar environment of horses, ponies and children. 


In a spontaneous gesture towards the end of the visit HRH The Princess Royal paid tribute to all that Sr Mary Joy has achieved during the 35 years. Thanks to Sister Mary Joy for being such a steadfast part of the development of the centre over the past 35 years and never taking a backwards step in terms of the challenges that everybody faces and in creating such a very exceptional place as the Pony Centre."

'We owe her a debt of gratitude for that commitment,' the Princess said, “All of the things that have happened since the beginning are a testament to her understanding of people and of the ponies and the horses that work together with them. Nobody really understands it better.”

During the tour, the Princess met with the Pony Centre's volunteers and riders, watched a display in the indoor arena and handed out participation medals to riders as well as to teenagers whose lives have been changed by a BHS-led initiative. The initiative, titled Changing Lives Through Horses, is a programme for disengaged children to develop life skills by caring for and being around the animals.

Sr Mary Joy said that having the Princes Royal visit has been an 'outstanding' way to celebrate 35 years at the helm of Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre. 'It was a very special day, with the Princess Royal going around the centre and meeting so many people. I believe that she loves this place… and it gives us hope and strong roots for the future. It is my determination that our charity here will have a lasting legacy.'

Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre was founded in 1989, with the mission of improving the lives of inner city children and young people, including those with physical disabilities and learning difficulties.

Over the years, the centre has grown from three ponies and hand-built stables to a professional establishment with a traditional stable yard that contains 17 horses and two donkeys.

The charity is run by a small team of experienced and qualified staff, who are supported by many dedicated volunteers.


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