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Horse centre for autistic children forced to close due to lack of funding

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: October 03, 2012

  • Lilias Ahmeira, owner of Special Horses for Special Children, with Mr Blue and Casper

  • Lilias Ahmeira, owner of Special Horses for Special Children, with Mr Blue and Casper

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A horse centre that helped children with autism, emotional and behavioural problems has closed due to lack of funding.

Special Horses for Special Children, based at Scrapton Farm in Wadeford, near Chard, Somerset, was run by Lilias Ahmeira, a clinical practitioner in autism and neurological problems, and for two years had helped children make remarkable progress, with 600 helped this year alone.

But it cost £75,000-£100,000 to keep the 16 horses, pay staff and cover veterinary bills.

Ms Ahmeira, who blamed Government cutbacks on funding, warned of the financial crisis last month and appealed to the public for help. One person gave a cheque for £10,000, but despite offers totalling around £12,500, the sum was well short of the £35,000 needed to continue.

Ms Ahmeira said yesterday her hope is that the skills and expertise of the animals, staff and volunteers will not be lost.

“Autism is on the increase and this is work which needs to continue somewhere in some way,” she said.

“There have been little miracles every day; we have heard children speak who were mute and seen smiles and laughter where there had been tears and anger so we can hold our heads up high in the knowledge that we have made a difference to the lives of families we have touched.”

She added: “Thank you to our fantastic staff and volunteers and everyone who has supported us. All donations to our rescue fund will be returned.”

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