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Crowdfunding leads to new minibus for city equestrian venture

Published on Thursday, May 31, 2018

AN INNOVATIVE project that gives inner-city children the chance to ride horses has been able to buy a minibus thanks to the city council’s CrowdFund Leicester initiative.

The Urban Equestrian Academy, which has its office base in the city centre, launched a crowdfunding campaign in December 2017 to raise the £8,000 it needed to buy a minibus.

Thanks to donations from local people, the campaign has now hit its target, with a total of £8,252 raised.

The 15-seater Ford Transit minibus will now be used to transport inner-city children to various stables in Leicestershire, giving them the chance to experience an activity that might otherwise not be available to them.

The campaign was part of the CrowdFund Leicester programme, a website which supports crowdfunding campaigns via a company called Spacehive. CrowdFund Leicester is supported by Leicester City Council.

The project was also supported by Voluntary Action Leicester.

The campaign also received a £1,500 pledge from the City Mayor’s Community Engagement Fund, which was set up to support popular ideas that will benefit local neighbourhoods by helping to eliminate discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and encourage good relations between communities.

This pledge, along with generous pledges from members of the public and other funders on Spacehive, helped to ensure the project hit its target.

City mayor Peter Soulsby said: “This is exactly the sort of campaign that CrowdFund Leicester was set up to support.

“Offering community engagement funding enhanced the academy’s campaign and complemented their crowdfunding, so I’m delighted that we were able to help in this way.

“By working together with the community, we can ensure that council funds make a big difference to people’s lives.”

Urban Equestrian Academy founder Freedom Tariq Zampaladus said: “This minibus will make a huge difference to us. Up until now we’ve been hiring community transport when we needed it, which is expensive and unreliable.

“This will allow us to reach more people because we’ll have flexibility to run more sessions on different days.’

Freedom says he started the Urban Equestrian Academy after growing up around horses and working at a race yard in the Caribbean.

“The equestrian world has never focussed on inner cities – it’s just not been their priority,” he said. “Our social enterprise’s main priorities are widening participation and encouraging community cohesion between people from urban and rural areas through a common love of horses, ponies and equine assisted learning.”

The academy has 30 regular members, and has so far engaged with 80 young people aged six to 14. It is active across the city, with members from the Highfields, Saffron Lane and St Andrews areas, plus work being carried out in areas such as Beaumont Leys and St Matthews.

Freedom added: “I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone – from all across the country – who made a pledge, plus all those who support our vision.

“We want to build on the support we’ve had nationally and encourage everyone to find out a bit more about us and our long-term vision. Our mission is to make the equestrian world more diverse, involving people from all faiths, cultures and backgrounds.

“The end goal is for us to own our own land – the minibus is just the beginning of our journey!”

To find out more about the Urban Equestrian Academy, find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @TheUrbanEquest

To find out more about CrowdFund Leicester, visit