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Olympian Opens “Amazing” New Equestrian Centre

One of Britains top riders described Easton Colleges new 4.5million equestrian centre as truly amazing.

Olympic medallist Pippa Funnel told invited guests at the official opening that the complex part of a 21million investment programme at the college near Norwich was one of the best she had seen.

This is a truly amazing centre. Looking at things from a riders point of view, we need facilities like this throughout the country, she said. Hopefully, Easton College will allow me to come back here with some of my horses.

She said it was clear that the facilities had been designed with the horses welfare very much at the forefront. Ms Funnell, who started her career working for riding teacher Ruth McMullen at West Acre, said Norfolk was very dear to her heart.

The centre features an Olympic-size indoor arena with a viewing gallery, an outdoor ring, high quality internal and external stabling, solarium, horse-walker and interactive mechanical dressage horse.

It also includes major new facilities for animal care students and staff, including classrooms, dog grooming parlour, hydrotherapy unit and medical rooms.

The centre was officially opened by Sir Nicholas Bacon, a former chairman of the governors and now the colleges patron, who said he was honoured that it had been named after him.

He said land-based industries were fundamentally important to Norfolks future and that the county deserved a great learning centre like Easton College to provide people with the skills and knowledge that would continue to benefit the local economy.

He praised college principal David Lawrence for securing the Learning and Skills Council funding that had seen the development of not only the equestrian centre, but also a new general-purpose teaching facility, accommodation block, golf academy, floodlit all-weather football pitch and state-of-the-art indoor tennis centre.

Mr. Lawrence told more than 400 guests at the opening ceremony that the new equestrian and small animal care centre was something that the whole of Norfolk could be proud of. This has been achieved through partnership and its worth celebrating, he said.

The opening speeches, in which chairman of governors Mike Gamble welcomed guests, was followed by a series of riding demonstrations. First into the arena was a beaming seven-year-old Mollie Harris riding her 18-year-old Shetland pony Magpie.

Demonstrations followed from Paralympic dressage rider Simon Laurens, para-riders Susi Rogers-Hartley and Karen Bostock, carriage drivers Lindsey Tyas and Amanda Goate, and rider Alistair Hood, who has produced 48 horses for the Horse of the Year Show. Seven members of Pakefield Riding School, who have trained together for only a month, gave a demonstration of vaulting.

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