Sports Driving is a registered charity started in 2007 by a small group of enthusiastic volunteers who are keen for people with an impairment to enjoy the fun, excitement and health benefits of taking part in sports carriage driving.
Our present trustees have a wide range of skills and interests but all are eager to make sure as many as possible can take part in this remarkable sport. They agreed to use the operating name 'Sports Driving Unlimited' to put into words our belief that anyone with a physical or mental impairment can take part in sports carriage driving and benefit from therapeutic contact with ponies.
We think our approach is unique:
We blend the exhilaration, excitement and adrenalin-rush of sports carriage driving with the expertise of developing individual confidence, motivation and achievement.
"Since I started to drive my confidence has rocketed and I am a totally different person due to the sport.”
“We think you are doing wonderful things and are delighted to have helped in some small way." Supporter
We fund lessons and group activities at Chariots of Fire Driving Centre, near Lockerbie and Thompson House Equestrian Centre near Wigan and at other venues in southern Scotland and Cumbria. Our professional coaches are all skilled carriage drivers who compete and win at national and regional carriage driving competitions. They are vetted under the protection of vulnerable people regulations.
Our small group of volunteers and supporters work very hard to organise fund-raising events, apply for grants and collect donations but there are never have enough funds to meet all the demand for our activities and take care of our ponies.
Sports Driving Unlimited recently funded a programme of driving lessons for children from the James Rennie school in Carlisle. Youngsters aged from 10 – 12 with disabilities had instruction in driving starting with the basics and progressing through the sessions which culminated in a competition with timed cones and obstacle driving. One young lad didn’t want to trot during his first session but by the last was asking to go faster when cantering around the arena! Rosettes were awarded at the final competition session for each phase.
James Rennie teacher Liz Davison said:
“This four week programme has been an exciting and rewarding project which all the children have thoroughly enjoyed. It has provided them with a unique opportunity and has improved their confidence in trying new experiences. The final session was a real celebration of their achievements and gave them the opportunity to show off their new abilities and skills. I can’t thank the charity enough for funding this project – we will be keeping in contact in the hopes that more money can be raised to extend it”.
“It is a safe, fun and new environment for our kids to learn and develop many essential life skills. It gives them an opportunity to experience a different social setting - experiencing the outdoors, an opportunity that many would otherwise not have. Carriage driving allows the children to build and develop their confidence and self awareness. They develop their communication skills in new ways and settings. They listen to and respond to instructions in an enjoyable yet meaningful learning experience. Carriage driving also allows many children to develop their muscle control and strength and work on their posture. Above all, everyone enjoys it and gets more out of it than can be put into words."
"Having MS and being disabled means lots of sports activities are out of bounds, which is one of the reasons I enjoy driving. I also get an upper body workout at the same time as well as meeting friends and making new ones. As time went on I found that my confidence has grown in leaps and bounds and I now enjoy it immensely and am becoming quite good at it.”
Click here to see a short videoclip of Michelle, one of our drivers, having serious fun driving the cones and obstacles at an indoor competition.
We work in partnership with the Chariots of Fire Equestrian Centre - a Community Interest Company. The video above shows Demi, whose two sons Matthew and Ryan both have additional needs and attend the Centre weekly. Her view of the benefits they receive from the activities is heartening!