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Centre clocks up 50 years in the saddle

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AN EQUESTRIAN centre marked its 50th anniversary with a party for friends, family, pupils and former pupils on Saturday.

The Trent Valley Equestrian Centre, on Occupation Lane, Fiskerton, caters for all ages and abilities and offers a range of equestrian services, from basic horse-riding tuition to show jumping and dressage competitions.

The centre was established by Mrs Joy Wilson, of Fiskerton, when she rented a field on Crafts Way, just off Kirkby Close, Southwell.

With just six ponies and horses, Mrs Wilson charged one shilling for a one-hour riding lesson.

Her daughter, Miss Rose Wilson (42) lives on the current site and has been running and managing the centre with her partner, Mr Alan Bloggs, for 18 years.

She said: “My mum was a very intellectual woman, with a good business mind and horses were her true love.”

When she set up the riding school Mrs Wilson lived at Burgage Manor, Southwell. She is recorded as the last person to graze Burgage Green in 1966 with her horse, Navigator, a goat called Rin Tin Tin and six ducks.

As the riding school increased in popularity Mrs Wilson, who used to manage The Black Boy hotel, Nottingham, moved the centre to Tanyard, Westgate, Southwell.

There, Mrs Wilson was one of the first in the country to breed white Shetland ponies to be used in Cinderella pantomimes nationwide.

Her daughter said: “I have happy memories of being at Westgate. I can remember spending all my time at the riding centre, teaching people to ride. I was hardly ever at school.”

Mrs Wilson married Mr Joe Smith (84) who owned a small antiques shop on Queen Street, now The Barber Shop.

Miss Wilson said: “My dad was always in to antiques but I remember him helping out with the riding school whenever he could.”

Miss Wilson, who has two children, Joe (14) and Shannon (11) said the riding centre enjoyed a good relationship with the community.

She said: “Southwell Rotary Club helped us financially to install our first horse arena when we were at Westgate.”

The riding centre was one of several businesses in Southwell who donated money for the swimming pool to be built at Southwell Leisure Centre.

Miss Wilson said: “My mum gave six pence pony rides up and down the Burgage Green outside the police station.

“She raised £11, which is 440 rides, and then donated the money to the leisure centre.”

The centre moved to its current site in Fiskerton in 1990. It now boasts an international-sized indoor horse arena, 200 acres of grazing land, four outdoor arenas and ten stables.

Miss Wilson said: “Children that my mum taught how to ride are now coming to me with their children and now I teach them — it’s gone full circle. It’s great.

“Over the years I have met some really genuine lovely people in Southwell and supporting the community is something I always try and do.

“I love doing my job and I would not want to do anything else.”

The birthday celebrations took place inside the indoor tent, trampolines and games were provided for the children, there was a bar, music and memorabilia from the past 50 years was on display.

Miss Wilson said: “It was a great evening. I am glad we did something special to mark the 50 years.”

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